Peggy Simpson attended the third JAWS camp after hearing glowing reviews from her friend Christy Bulkeley. Since then, she has shown her value of it by recruiting many friends into the group. She said JAWS has camaraderie and networking not found in other journalism groups and the listserv allows members to stay engaged with one another year-round.
Peggy always possessed an independent spirit, and her steadfast belief in equality led her to long denounce exclusionary social clubs like sororities. When she published her opinion in the college newspaper, student protests against her awakened the realization that she was pursuing the right career path: “I was so amazed that somebody would have read the column and reacted to it like that.” After a stint at a community weekly, she became an AP reporter and covered major stories such as President Kennedy’s assassination and the women’s political movement. And then although she herself had not experienced gender discrimination at the AP, she joined a group of women who filed a discrimination suit against the organization to show solidarity with them. This was not a popular decision with her employer. Following her Nieman fellowship year, she reported for the Boston Herald and then worked as Ms. Magazine’s Washington political bureau chief. The closure of the magazine brought forth new adventures in her life, because through her teaching position at Indiana University‐Bloomington, she was recruited to spearhead a program at Warsaw University’s American Studies Center. Peggy ended up living in Poland for 10 more years and freelanced for a dozen of media outlets during the post‐Soviet reforms. Upon her return to Washington, D.C., she has worked as a reporter for the Women’s Media Center and has kept busy with friends and neighbors through the Dupont Circle Village.
For the oral history interviews with Peggy Simpson, I visited her home on December 14 and 16, 2013. She immediately put on the kettle to make tea and brought out a platter of cookies. The time passed swiftly as Peggy recounted her many adventures in journalism and her cat Madison occasionally passed by with a purr to solicit gentle strokes. At the conclusion of our conversation, Peggy packed up the cookies and insisted that I take them with me. She also invited me to a JAWS regional holiday mixer in Washington, D.C., on December 17, which I happily accepted. So in addition to the oral history, it was enjoyable meeting some Washington, D.C., members at a restaurant the next evening and experiencing fast bonding at the regional meetup over food and our common passion of journalism.
( This interview was conducted by Youn-Joo Park )