While I’ve collaborated with other journalists, this is the first time I’ve worked with a group of photographers, writers, and videographers who are also, amazingly, all female. The experience has been incredible for so many reasons, but the camaraderie, sisterhood, fellowship, and support will remain with me and I hope they will continue to grow beyond our reporting trip.
It wasn’t until our first nightly meeting in Honduras when each fellow or team shared their stories in depth that I truly understood how extremely talented, intrepid, deep-thinking, and creative these women are. Spending every day surrounded by them, whether at night or during the day as we report, has been an incredibly enriching experience (not to mention that non-stop laughter fuels us.
Another unexpected outcome of our time together has been the ability to openly and intimately discuss issues that we face in the journalism industry not only as women but also as people. One evening halfway through our trip, we talked into the night about the problematic aspects of pursuing a career in journalism and how we persevere as women when faced with challenges such as sexual harassment from both employers and people we photograph.
We also discussed stress and the toxic pressures of our industry that often praise the sensationalistic, violence-heavy work that’s treated as “real” journalism. Of course these stories and facets of life are necessary to report and to see, but it’s not everything. Furthermore, it can create a hostile environment for journalists as opposed to one in which we all support one another.
These conversations, and again the relationships being nurtured here, remind me of one of the most beautiful aspects of this profession, which is the friends you make and the mutual support that comes from them. The spirit of this group truly gives me hope that together we are working towards a more inclusive, responsible, balanced, and reflective form of journalism. Part of accomplishing that, though, will only be possible by valuing different approaches to storytelling.
Thanks to organizations like the IWMF, which equips women with skills to face the physical, emotional, and mental challenges of reporting as women, more female journalists are out in the field producing stories. These seemingly small accomplishments will render massive change over the long term that will undoubtedly help us produce a healthier community and a healthier media landscape where the stories we produce and consume more accurately reflect our society.