The Herstory: JAWS Oral History Project documents professional careers, work experiences and associational life of senior women journalists who have participated in JAWS. Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) is a women journalists’ organization that grew out of a 1984 panel discussion at the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri in the wake of the second-wave feminist movement. It was officially founded in 1985 and has grown from 16 founding members to more than 700 members across the country today. What you see here is a collection of oral history interviews with selective members of JAWS. The interviewees vary in their life stages and professional statuses: some being the founding members of JAWS and others having joined the organization more recently; some already celebrating a half-century of work, and others still in the middle of their careers; some working for elite newspapers, and others for community-based outposts; some crowned with a Pulitzer Prize, and others less recognized.
This oral history project captures the varied experiences of these women who made inroads into the traditionally male-dominated field of journalism. It not only explores their individual lives and careers but also documents their memories of JAWS and records the institutional memory of the organization through which these women manifested their deep interest in women’s empowerment. The interviews include materials on multiple topics such as entrance into the field of journalism in the 1960s and the 1970s, career opportunities and constraints in the newsroom, dynamics and mechanisms of gender-based associations, the functions and consequences of professional association membership, formal or informal styles of mentoring, and the nature and extent of the relationships women journalists build through their associational life.
This oral history project was initiated in 2013. It was sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism, greatly assisted by the JAWS leadership, and generously funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. The interviews were conducted by Yong Volz, Youn-Joo Park and Teri Finneman, who conducted the first set of interviews at the annual camp of JAWS in Vermont in October 2013, followed by visits to the homes and offices of participants in Washington D.C., New York City and a few Midwest cities. Some of the interviews were recorded on the Missouri campus. All the oral history interviews, on average, lasted three to four hours, with the longest lasting more than seven hours.
The website you see here was designed by Ying Wu with assistance from a team of volunteer colleagues and students from the University of Missouri and other locations. It includes profiles of the JAWS members being interviewed, audio and video clips of the interviews, pictures of early JAWS gatherings, and JAWS newsletters and documents from its first few years that were provided by the State Historical Society of Missouri Manuscript Collection. The music and artwork are original and produced specifically for this project. The pink hues throughout the website symbolize women’s empowerment and reflect the color of the original JAWS logo (a pink shark with lipstick).
We hope to add full videos and interview transcripts at a later time and make them available to JAWS members, teachers and scholars of women’s studies or journalism history, concerned journalists, and anyone interested in the professional and social lives of women journalists of different historical generations.
If you have any inquiries about this project, please contact the project leader and coordinator, Dr. Yong Volz, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yong Volz (张咏)
Associate Professor Missouri School of Journalism
Yong Volz is an associate professor of Journalism Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism and currently serves as the head of the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and as the membership chair for the Chinese Communication Association. She was a 2013-14 RJI Fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, under which this Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) Oral History Project was funded.
Volz’s research centers on journalists and their place in society, culture and history. Her published work addresses social stratification among the elite of U.S. foreign correspondents, gender disparities among Pulitzer Prize winners, the rise of Chinese women journalists in the early twentieth century, pioneers in journalism education and their practices, cultural brokers and Western missionary journalists in China, among other topics. One of her current projects draws on the JAWS oral histories and explores the varied experiences and collective identity of women who made inroads into the traditionally male-dominated field of journalism in the U.S. in the 1960s and the 1970s.
Born in Beijing and raised in Shanghai, Volz received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Renmin University of China. She then received a master’s degree in communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a doctoral degree in mass communication with a minor in history from the University of Minnesota.
Before teaching at the University of Missouri, she worked at the Boston Globe testing news apps for the iPad. Prior to coming to the U.S., Wu worked at The Beijing News, which is the leading daily newspaper in Beijing, China. Wu designed the daily news and feature sections. In 2009, her feature design “Vanishing of the Beijing Alley” won an Award of Excellence in the Society of News Design contest.
Wu was born in Jinzhou, Hubei province, a small town in the middle of China. She received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. She then received a master’s degree in cultural production from Brandeis University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Ph.D. student Missouri School of Journalism
Youn-Joo Park loves conducting interviews and oral histories because she is passionate about journalism and the celebration of people’s diverse experiences. Thus far in her career, she has worked in radio and print publications, taught journalism and piano, and managed Brushcase Editing editorial services. She obtained her BA in music and politics & government from the University of Puget Sound, studied French and piano in Paris, and earned her MA in journalism from Missouri. As a current Ph.D. candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism, she is specializing in media history and sociology, and is researching foreign correspondents for her dissertation.
Ph.D. Missouri School of Journalism
Teri Finneman just received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. She specializes in journalism history with an emphasis on media coverage of U.S. first ladies and women politicians.
Finneman is a North Dakota native who most recently worked as a Capitol correspondent for Forum Communications’ four North Dakota daily newspapers and two TV stations. She was a pioneer of multimedia reporting in North Dakota, often seen juggling a laptop, tripod, and video camera at once. She has worked for 17 newspapers and four TV stations, as well as for ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., during her media career. She also served on the board of directors of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.
Throughout her career, Finneman has received a number of reporting awards, particularly for coverage of social issues and for business reporting. Finneman is primarily known for her coverage of state government.
Finneman received her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Mass Communications with a minor in history from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Undergraduate student Missouri School of Journalism
Katherine Parkinson, of Kansas City, Missouri, attends the University of Missouri where she is a freshman on the Dean’s List in the School of Journalism and the College of Arts and Science. She is an undergraduate research assistant and is currently majoring in journalism and psychology. In her spare time, she contributes to the student publication, The Maneater, where she is a staff writer.
Katherine is a National Merit scholar and attended St. Teresa’s Academy where she was the managing editor of print for her high school news publication, the Dart.
She enjoys reading novels, writing feature pieces and listening to alternative music. She also loves volunteering with children, particularly tutoring inner city kids in reading and writing, and traveling around the world. In the future, she hopes to go into magazine editing or writing.
Project Leader/Yong Volz
Creative Director/Ying Wu
Writers/Yong Volz, Youn-Joo Park, Teri Finneman, Katherine Parkinson
Interviewers/Yong Volz, Youn-Joo Park, Teri Finneman