Leading up to a historic “vote for (name) change” at our 60th anniversary conference, I implore our members and attendees to read the history as presented by NMPW Historian Denise Tessier in the recent BROADSHEET. In true journalism form, she shows rather than tells the story behind the passion our upcoming discussion and vote are sure to ignite.
As a state board member, former chapter president, and with 15 years invested in our organization, I, too, recall the debates, some heated, about the pros and cons of moving to a gender-neutral moniker. In the early 90s I was somewhat convinced it was imperative to our survival that we drop “women.” At the turn of the century, armed with new research that women, although highly visible in media and other professions, had not made ample strides in pay and promotions, I swayed toward keeping our name intact. Okay, yes, I flip-flopped. Even now, I am torn. Currently two of our three chapters are led by men. In the trenches of a college campus daily, I also have anecdotal evidence that some millenials are turned off by the gender specificness of our name, while others are not aware men are “welcome.”
But for me, the tipping point came earlier this year when I learned that young bloggers in Albuquerque were about to launch yet another media networking organization in an effort to embrace “new media.” “Hold the (cell) phone,” I exclaimed! ABQ has a plethora of professional organizations focused on communication, PR and marketing. Press Women, I argued, is exceptional in that we shine a light on ethics in journalism and fight to preserve the First Amendment. These not-so-subtle differences poise our organization to bask in the glow of the explosion of new media. These social writers and artists seek recognition and guidance as they bravely manuever an entirely new world of communicating – one that is instant, global. We are positioned to offer a certain wisdom 60 years in the making. Will becoming a palindrome (New Mexico Media Network) attract and sustain membership? I’m still not sure. I propose we blog about it. And then let’s enjoy each other’s company at the conference!
NMPW College Scholarship Chair
Note: 22 of the state affiliates still have “women” in their names; 15 do not.