Joy Cook

What JAWS did to a large degree was help us sort out as journalists what we were going to be covering and why we needed to cover certain things and how to cover it, how best to cover it, because it was not just skimming the top.

— Joy Cook

Joy Cook

Joy Cook first became interested in journalism in junior high after having some “excellent teachers.” By the time she went to college at Trinity University in 1960, Joy was paying her way through school by working on student newspapers. At the same time, she was majoring in political science and journalism which kicked off a successful, multiplatform career. Throughout the years, healthcare and political journalism and the convergence of these two areas remained her prime interests.

After college, Joy found a job with the wire service, United Press International. She was assigned to Columbus, Ohio and covered the governor, statehouse and other politics there. In 1972, she moved to New York City where she worked for the Associated Press and later on the New York Post. In 1988, she decided to freelance and shortly after that went to work for NBC from 1990 to 2005. Around this time, Joy obtained her master’s degree from Hunter College and taught journalism and public policy as an adjunct professor there. In addition to teaching, Joy acted as president of The Society of Silurians (the oldest news club in America) and the program chair of JAWS.

Joy said one of the reasons she was drawn to JAWS was that camp attendees came out “restored [and] revived, maybe not a new person, but renewed.” What made it different from other organizations was that it was more personal, and women could freely share without hesitation. Joy said she also appreciated that JAWS helped journalists sort out what to cover, why they needed to cover it and how to go about doing that.

“It was not just skimming the top [of issues],” she said. “That was the big reward from [JAWS]. It’s part of JAWS DNA to help each other and . . . think of what’s going to be the need so the women journalists are prepared to compete, and compete at a high level.”

The oral history interview with Joy took place at the JAWS camp in Essex, Vermont on October 27, 2013.

( This interview was conducted by Yong Volz )