Reflections after Courage

The stage at the Courage in Journalism awards before the start of the ceremony.

A little under two weeks ago, I joined the IWMF team in New York for the Courage in Journalism awards ceremony and I still keep thinking back to the people I met and the discussions we had.

Before the ceremony itself had started, I tried to help the IWMF communications director Chanda Daniels (help is an exaggeration – I was shadowing her so I could get a first glimpse of the interviews she was doing with the many fascinating Courage attendees) set up the Instagram livestream. That’s when I ran into Lynn Povich. While I unsuccessfully tried not to be starstruck, she was very kind and open to discussing the many issues that women journalists face in the workplace. The fact that I got to dissect this topic with someone who I’ve admired for years – her book, “Good Girls Revolt,” about the lawsuit filed by the women on staff at Newsweek in the 1970s is one of my favorites – is amazing and goes to show how much of an “equalizer” the Courage awards are. Women journalists, of different levels of experience and expertise, gather to discuss issues that they find important.

Then I met Peter Canellos, editor at large of Politico and part of the committee that selects the Neuffer fellows. Since my first day at the Boston Globe, I’ve heard various staff members talk about how amazing it was to work with Peter. I’ve also had various professors at MIT who are avid readers of the Globe cite stories he had written over the years, and many say they miss him at the Globe. Of course, he was one of the kindest people I met at the event and indulged my incessant questioning about everything from what the Globe was like 10-15 years ago to how Politico’s Europe wing operated nowadays.

This is me looking awkward while trying to pose on the red carpet. It’s a lot harder than it looks!

As I took the train back to Boston, I kept thinking about how special I had felt the whole day. Special to have been selected as the 2018 Neuffer Fellow and to have joined the IWMF family, but primarily because I was a woman journalist who was forging all these connections with other women journalists and male journalists who support what we do. I will look back at this fellowship but also the people I met and spoke to that that day whenever I’m confronted with a challenge in the future – especially when someone tells me I can’t do it as well as my male colleagues. I will think about the brave journalists honored that day, such as Nima Elbagir whose reports about the war on Yemen I keep catching on CNN after meeting her at the ceremony, and gather the courage to propel forward.

Una Hajdari is the 2018 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow.