Catherine Combs

December, 2018


The Year in Review

By Becky Brooks, Executive Director

What a year it’s been. 2018 has been filled with glimmers of hope even as we see tragedy and hardship. Communities came together to provide aid to those in need and strangers wept for people they’ve never met. Women, men and children marched for change, and we gathered to watch a royal wedding, midterm elections and a beloved president’s funeral.

Through it all, the media was there – talking, listening and documenting. Despite a turbulent year for journalists, your hard-working teams kept us up-to-date every step of the way and delivered these stories directly to watching eyes and listening ears where people wanted it at that moment. For this reason, we thank you for your perseverance and dedication. AWM owns the responsibility to recognize, honor and distribute the content that you, the drivers and supporters of content, are creating.

For more than 60 years, the Alliance for Women in Media has been supporting and celebrating the contributions of women through connections, education and storytelling. Born out of the National Association of Broadcasters, AWM (originally the American Women in Radio and Television) was created by a group of women who understood the need to connect within a male-dominated media world, so they could positively impact the future for other women in the profession. History is full of stories like these—stories of women who had the courage to step up, speak out and their actions have a lasting impact.

The current leadership of AWM should be so proud of what has been built on that foundation. I have had the privilege of serving AWM for nearly four years now and our collective goal, to further why we were founded, has been to focus – focus on recognition, connection and build the future of women in media.

Focus is critical as growth can happen where energy is given. We have seen and experienced that in 2018 with record breaking Gracie entries followed by celebrating those winners at the Gala and Luncheon. Rebranding the Gracies Leadership Awards and honoring seven deserving women and learning from Pam Oliver about her rise to the top of women in sports broadcasting. Six deserving students received more than $20,000 in scholarships and ten more experienced the Gracies Leadership Awards first hand and will participate in a Lunch and Learn at CBS. You can read some of the content our future leaders have written on our site. The future looks bright!

While these efforts are impacting the future – we know there is still more opportunity – so we will continue to focus.

The AWM board of directors met recently for a strategic planning meeting and through much brainstorming and discussion, the board created a list of goals for new AWM initiatives which include more ways to engage AWM members. We want to push even more snackable, relevant content to members and the masses while adding opportunities for education in the future. We also want to gather executive women in one room across television, radio and interactive media – which is what AWM has the unique ability to do.

It is also important to continue shining a light on content creators at all stages of their careers and the Gracie Awards do just that.

We invite each of you to consider ways to engage with AWM and our Foundation to impact the future of women in media. The opportunity is available now to enter outstanding content to be honored at the 2019 Gracie Awards. Additionally, look for ways in early 2019 to volunteer on task forces implementing some of these new initiatives as well as judging Gracies in early 2019.

There is still much to be done including more seats at board room tables for women and our collective voices and effort will continue to bring positive change. AWM will fulfill our responsibility of recognizing, honoring and distributing even more content created by, for and about women.

With 2019 in sight, we can reflect on what we’ve learned this year, while looking forward to a fresh start. I hope we can all focus on growth in areas of our professional and personal lives. We have an opportunity to take action by mentoring, coaching, teaching and raising other people up, while finding and navigating our own paths forward.

Here’s to welcoming a New Year and wishing the world of media a healthy, happy and productive 2019!

Catherine Combs

December, 2018


Rae-Shan Nate’ Barclift, CBS Fellowship Program Participant

Receiving an email from AWM with the subject line ‘Congratulations…’ was unbelievable, and I predict it will be Life Changing! The criteria for the CBS/AWM Fellowship called for female, college students in media. I am proudly female, but well beyond my college years. I wrote in anyway! I never thought I would be chosen. I’m in my Forties, Fabulous and I have pursued Media my entire adult life. Yet, I dared to step outside the criteria guidelines and ask if anyone would take note of my accomplishments and see me. On a whim, I went for it and reminded myself… You are what they’re looking for!

Attending the Gracies Leadership Awards felt like it was day one of my new journey. Seeing so many successful women was Women’s Empowerment at its BEST! I felt like I CAN because they HAVE! Every woman in that room earned the right to be there and I was there with them. So grateful! I wanted to have a conversation with each of them to find out their story because I’m a firm believer that every Woman has a story and Women Empower Women when we share our stories. We were the Best of the Best that day. And seeing Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide, was an added treat. It’s been many years, but I got my start interning in his office on a show called ‘NOW,’ with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric. Full Circle moment for me!

When others said ‘No,’ I had to be my own ‘Yes.’ I created and hosted my own Talk Show, ‘I AIN’T That CHICK,’ about Self-Empowerment, Self-Awareness, and Self-Respect for women and girls of all ages and ethnicities and later created two more Talk Shows, ‘Chick Chat’ and ‘DISCUSSIONS.’ I currently Co-Host a Faith Based, Internet Radio Talk Show called, ‘Be Yourself’. I’m passionate about my purpose and love for Media.

I am humbled, I am honored and I am beyond grateful that AWM and CBS saw me! Some blessings are delayed, but definitely not denied.

Catherine Combs

December, 2018


Emily Sauchelli, 2018 Loreen Arbus Scholarship Recipient

At the Gracie Awards Luncheon, on June 27th 2018, I was living a dream. I never thought in a million years I would be receiving an award of this type of grandeur and prestige. I never fully had confidence in my capabilities until that day. That moment opened my eyes and made me realize anything is possible if I just believe in myself.

At the Gracie Awards Luncheon, I was inspired by so many women. I was particularly inspired by PBS News Hour Editor in Chief, Judy Woodruff. Anyone can be a journalist, but it takes someone special to be a storyteller. Judy Woodruff is a master at her craft. From watching her on TV, to seeing how she carries herself, Woodruff cares about the message she is sending out to society and does not care about putting on a persona for viewers. The best moment was when I got the opportunity to talk with Woodruff at the luncheon. It was a moment that I will never forget.

After I introduced myself, she was so gracious and asked, “What was your story?”. She told me she was going to look through the stories of all the winners on the plane back to Washington DC. From that moment, I knew the kind of person she was – kind, caring and inspirational. One of my favorite quotes from Judy’s speech was, “We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. We need more women in decision-making jobs, more women doing the hiring, more women deciding which stories get covered and more women reaching out to bring along younger women like the remarkable women we are seeing here today.” I agree with Woodruff that, as women in the media, we need to start uplifting each other and praising each other for our achievements in the industry.

Besides being a great storyteller, Woodruff cares about those with disabilities, as her son has spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Due to her son’s conditions, she is able to relate to others who are going through similar circumstances. That is another reason why she is great at her job. Audiences don’t just see a woman doing her job as a journalist, they see a woman who has opened part of her private life up to the world, in hopes that others can understand and know more about those with disabilities. Every single one of us is different on this Earth, and it’s time that everyone respects one another and our differences, no matter the severity.

What I took away from this experience – becoming a Gracie award winner and being in a room full of talented journalists and storytellers – is that everyone has his or her own story. The road to success is different for each person. I learned that no matter the struggles people have in their lives, it matters how they persevere and continue to achieve their goals. To me, that’s true inspiration.

Catherine Combs

November, 2018


Nazanin Bani Amerian, 2018 Ford “Emerging Voices” Scholarship Recipient

I am standing in the middle of a fancy ballroom in NYC and recording the scene to preserve the moment in my mind forever. There are well-dressed people, purple lights, chandeliers, glasses of champagne and beautiful women taking pictures with their awards. My mom, brother and friends are waiting for this, so I post it on Instagram immediately with the caption, “This is the first time I feel important in my life”. I am 32, and that is not a lie. I feel important as me, Nazanin, for the first time in 32 years. I am here to accept my scholarship for a story of my life that I sent to the Alliance for Woman in Media. We are sitting at table 1 with all these important people working for different networks like CNN, journals and other places that I have always dreamt of working with one day. The beautiful girl from Ford is reading my article, which is a story about an ordinary Middle Eastern girl. People are clapping, tears are coming and I am overcome by this feeling in my heart that they have heard what I have told them. They are looking at me with no anger, judgment or pity. I am “me” here.

All my life, as a woman, I have not been allowed to talk about what I believe in, what I want or do not want to be, what I’ve gone through and what I feel about life in my country. There are some places in this world where you can tell your story and nobody is going to punish you for telling the truth. Alliance for Women in Media has given me the courage, confidence, and motivation to speak my truth. Standing in front of people I have admired all my life, talking to them and being heard by them has given me the encouragement to not be silent anymore. I know this experience is not just for me. This is for every other woman. Today, we need to cheer each other on, shake each other’s hands and help each other. The Alliance for Women in Media is a place where we can find that.

Catherine Combs

November, 2018


Natalie Edelstein, 2018 “Emerging Voices” Scholarship Recipient

My entire life, I have been supported by strong women who have believed in me and my ability to achieve my goals. Beginning in high school with my Mock Trial coaches, Judith Daar and Debby Stegura, I learned that there was a vast network of women looking to nurture and help young women find their voice and stand up for what they believed. In college, I had the opportunity to work for C-Strategies President and CEO, Becky Carroll, who believed in me enough to allow me to take on a full-time role within her office and instilled confidence in me to stand behind the work I’d done. Those women, along with many others, fundamentally changed my life. They taught me to seize opportunities, make my voice heard and never turn down a challenge. I have come to realize how lucky I am for this vast support network, and I can see how much I’ve achieved because of it.

I was drawn to the Alliance for Women in Media for this very reason. The organization, which was created by women and for women, is a constant reminder that women can achieve incredible goals, status and progress when they support one another. I’m inspired by the Alliance’s commitment to educate, connect and inspire others in media and related fields. Because of AWM’s work, women who might otherwise be passed over for positions or opportunities find themselves elevated to a position where they can receive the recognition they deserve. Now more than ever, women need a seat at the table. Especially when it comes to media coverage and decision making, having women in positions of power is integral for balanced and thoughtful coverage.

Organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media are vitally important. By providing scholarships to students pursuing careers in media and allied fields — as well as supporting educational programs, charitable activities and public service campaigns — the organization continues to demonstrate the power of female leadership.

As one of this year’s Emerging Voices Scholarship winners, I am hyper-cognizant of how lucky I am to have the AWM’s support. The quote “Behind every great woman is a tribe of other successful women” couldn’t be more true. The Alliance for Women in Media is living proof.

Catherine Combs

November, 2018


Alliance for Women in Media Honors Seven Female Leaders at Inaugural Gracies Leadership Awards

The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM) hosted its inaugural Gracies Leadership Awards luncheon, formerly called Women Who Lead, Tuesday, November 13 to a capacity crowd at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Keynote speaker Pam Oliver connected with the audience as she recounted her struggles and triumphs as a woman in the media industry. She spoke of winning a Gracie Award earlier this year and shared, “So many people asked me what it meant to me to receive a Gracie Award, and I always say it was really a career moment. I have received numerous awards that I am very proud of and grateful for, but the Gracie sits on my desk. It just gives me inspiration, and it says something about what women are able to accomplish.”

Seven female leaders in media were honored at the event. Highlights from their speeches include:
• The first honoree, Dara Altman, EVP and chief administrative officer, Sirius XM, said, “Women, Jews and all minorities of every kind do not have the same opportunities. Every day I try to ensure, however I can, that those unheard and under-observed people and voices are heard and that no one is told, like they told my mother, that she has no place at the table. I want to thank the Alliance for Women in Media for everything you do to make this a more inclusive industry and to shine a light on deserving women.”
• Lynn Beall, EVP and COO of media operations, TEGNA recognized the incredible work her team has done in today’s media climate. She said, “We’ve really tried, with the way the world is going today, to reinvent journalism. It has been the most challenging and messy time of my career because it’s hard. We’ve actually turned over our company to the best and brightest through innovation summits and pilots, and they have come up with content we could not have even imagined a couple of years ago.”
• Despite a big day in the news for CNN, honoree Allison Gollust, EVP and chief marketing officer, CNN, and Jeff Zucker, president, CNN were in attendance. During her acceptance, Gollust said, “There has never been a more important time in the news business to do what we do.”
• After thanking her “girl tribe” and husband, Jeanine Liburd, chief marketing & communications officer, BET Networks went on to say, “We can say everything that we want to say, but if we’re not doing the actions to make it happen then what’s the point? If you walk into a board room and everyone looks like you, you’re not being diverse and you’re not being inclusive. You’re not walking the walk.”
• In accepting the honor, Beth Neuhoff, president and CEO, Neuhoff Communications said, “We need to go out of this room and not just tell each other what we know, which is that having women in management, in the c-suite and on boards is good for cultural diversity, but you know what, it’s also great for investor returns. We need to show that and prove that, which we can…”
• Carole Robinson, chief communications officer, BuzzFeed addressed the importance of including men in the conversation about equality in the workplace. She said, “If we want to impact change we need to clarify what strong and equal representation is and how valuable it is to have everyone at the table. None of the rules have changed. The rules are the same ones we learned in fifth grade; we keep our hands to ourselves and treat others with respect.”
• Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, CBS said, “Founders of AWM were way ahead of their time understanding women have a lot to contribute and a lot to say. Many of us here have power and privilege, and what I believe is our responsibility, to help other women excel in this business.”

“Now more than ever before, we have a responsibility to create conversation and shine the spotlight on the success and progress of women in media,” said Heather Cohen, AWMF board member and EVP, The Weiss Agency. ”We not only want to honor those deserving recognition but show the next generation what is possible. Our purpose at AWM is to bring intelligent, accomplished, dedicated women (and men) together to share ideas, experiences and some ‘you go, girls!’”

Photos from the event can be found at

Sponsors of the event were Ford Motor Company, BET Networks, BuzzFeed, CBS Corporation, CNN, Cox Media Group, FOX Sports, Katz Media Group, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, Neuhoff Communications, SiriusXM, TEGNA, vCreative and WideOrbit.

Becky Brooks

September, 2018


Integrating Public Health and Entertainment to Improve Digital Literacy among Youth

By Grace Kim, MPH

In the current hyperconnected age, digital literacy is essential to the development of 21st century skills, as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are increasingly conducted through computers, social media, and the internet. The current generation of youth is one defined by media and technology. Generation Z, consisting of those born between 1996-2010, is the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones, and many do not remember a time before social media (Williams, 2015). Stories of young people who become the digital elite demonstrate their new roles as creators and influencers and have become celebrated narratives of technological progress and entrepreneurial savvy as they discover new, innovative uses for media and technology (Burwell, 2010). Not only is the prevalence of smartphone access among youth essentially universal, a growing share of teens now describe their internet usage as nearly constant with 45% of teens saying they use the internet “almost constantly,” a figure that has nearly doubled since the 2014-2015 Pew Research Center survey (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). With this kind of technology easily accessed at our fingertips and the near constant usage of these technologies, new skills and competencies are needed to equip youth to engage in society.

While digital literacy is often framed as an educational issue, the constantly changing media and technology landscape increasingly requires digital literacy for everyday activities and an engaged citizenship, and has reverberating implications on health, well-being, and quality of life. As such, digital literacy should also be considered an urgent public health issue. In this essay, we describe how a collaboration between public health and entertainment can be used to better understand digital literacy and form opportunities to improve youth digital literacy levels. The aims will be to: (1) discuss the importance of digital literacy in the context of public health, (2) review existing digital literacy interventions and the potential limitations of restricting these interventions to the classroom, and ultimately (3) identify entertainment education as a unique opportunity for public health and the entertainment and media industry to work together to improve digital literacy in youth populations.

Digital Literacy for Public Health

Since its origin, the definition of digital literacy has had to constantly adapt to new technologies and new ways in which users interact with these technologies. Definitions have shifted away from protection or inoculation and towards empowering individuals to engage with media (Bulger & Davison, 2018). Digital literacy takes into account the full range of skills needed to read, write, speak, view, and participate in online spaces (Turner et al., 2017). The aim of these core competencies is responsible digital citizenship, an understanding of citizens’ rights and responsibilities online, a recognition of the benefits and risks, and realization of the personal and ethical implications of actions in the digital space. In sum, the goal is to empower individuals to be smart and effective participants in the digital world (Partnership for 21st Century Learning).

Although digital literacy has traditionally been discussed in the context of education, digital literacy is also fundamental to public health. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization, 2018). At an individual level, digital technologies allow us to participate in everyday activities—access internet to do homework, shop online, communicate with one another, or check real-time traffic conditions, demonstrating how digital literacy can contribute to individual quality of life (Tomer & Lee, 2015). Digital literacy has also become increasingly important to public health as digital technologies have changed the way through which we obtain health information and access care. For example, as health records, medical appointment scheduling, and health information move to digital platforms, individuals must become digitally literate to access these resources and receive timely and appropriate care. Of particular concern among public health researchers has been how the media can influence audiences regarding risky behaviors, such as increased propensity for violence or body dissatisfaction (Potter, 2013). In response, interventions implementing an educational curriculum in classroom, community, and lab settings have been designed to foster resiliency and help young people be critical of the media they consume. This body of research has found digital literacy interventions to have positive, counteracting effects related to risky and antisocial behaviors, including violence and aggression, alcohol and tobacco use, body image issues, eating disorders, and commercialism (Halliwell, Easun, & Harcourt, 2011; Jeong, Cho, & Hwang, 2012; Kupersmidt, Scull, & Austin, 2010).

Navigating digital technologies also plays a role in public health at a community and societal level. The wellbeing of individuals in a community is influenced by how well the community functions, not only in terms of ensuring equitable distribution of the determinants of health, but in terms of the processes of governance in the community such as the degree of participation, the degree of social cohesion and the extent of civic engagement (Hancock, Labonte, & Edwards, 1999; National Civic League, 1993; Putnam, 1993). Given digital technologies are considered central to cultural, civic, and economic participation (Aabo, 2005; Meyers, Erickson, & Small, 2013), digital literacy empowers individuals to be active participants in their communities. For example, online advocacy, social protest, “liking,” sharing, and remixing media demonstrate digital technologies’ increasing capacities for political engagement, advocacy, and social justice (Cohen C & J, 2012; Mihailidis & Thevenin, 2013; Turner et al., 2017). Thus, digital literacy can improve community functioning, which, in turn, has positive effects on individual health outcomes.

Clearly, the costs of digital illiteracy are high. Digital literacy has major health implications over an individual’s life course. Although we often assume that young people are digitally literate, there is some research that reveals disparities in digital literacy, with lower digital literacy associated with lower socioeconomic status and racial and ethnic minorities (Hargittai, 2010; Rampell, 2008). These disparities may have reverberating effects later in life. Digital literacy equips people with the skills and capacities to pursue higher education and obtain higher paying jobs due to most jobs now requiring basic computer skills and an expanding job market that is technology-driven (Tomer & Lee, 2015). Substantial literature supports the influence of socioeconomic status on health outcomes via mechanisms of social capital and access to resources (Phelan, Link, & Tehranifar, 2010). The U.S. has gambled on broadband being a great equalizer (West & Karsten, 2016) but, in order to achieve this goal, and take advantage of the resources that broadband presents, citizens must be able to understand how to use the internet to access and interpret the information available. This reinforces that digital literacy training must occur in early life stages, thereby increasing opportunities for youth to succeed. Given digital literacy is also a public health concern, it implores us to explore how a public health perspective can contribute to improving youth digital literacy and address persisting disparities.

 A Review of Digital Literacy Interventions

Digital or media literacy interventions typically involve an experimental treatment that provides people with the tools that increase awareness and promote deeper understanding of the underlying meanings contained in media messages (Potter, 2004). The goal is to build the cognitive skills required to process media messages in a more active way and use these tools to defend themselves against the potential negative effects of media (Byrne, 2009; Potter, 2004). A meta-analysis of media literacy interventions reports that digital and media literacy interventions are generally effective as having significant positive effects on outcomes including media knowledge, criticism, perceived realism, influence, behavioral beliefs, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behavior (Jeong et al., 2012).

What emerges from a review of the existing literature of digital literacy interventions is that interventions have been largely limited to the classroom {Colwell, 2013 #25}(Colwell, Hunt-Barron, & Reinking, 2013; Sefton-Green, Nixon, & Erstad, 2009), and the majority of media literacy efforts in the U.S. remain focused on teacher training and curricula development (Bulger & Davison, 2018). These curricula often focus on protection with digital literacy as a means to defend oneself from the potentially harmful effects of media. For example, in health, media literacy often means helping youth decipher implicit messages in media and increasing awareness of the media as a business of selling products and behaviors that often are not good for them (Brown, 2006). The assumption behind these interventions is that youth will become more critical of the media they consume and will be less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors promoted by the media (Brown, 2006). Although these critical evaluation skills are important, these kinds of interventions tend to narrowly focus on the media as having a negative or harmful influence on audiences. What has been largely absent in the digital literacy intervention literature is using the powerful influence of media for the social good.

While it remains essential to continue efforts to incorporate digital literacy into school curricula, studies have identified barriers to implementing digital literacy curriculum and integration of digital technologies into classroom instruction, including competing demands, lack of appropriate professional development for teachers, and teacher attitudes towards the importance of digital literacy training (Colwell et al., 2013; Hutchison & Reinking, 2010, 2011). Moreover, learning digital literacy not only occurs in schools, but also in the home and other informal settings, such as social environments with friends and online communities (Meyers et al., 2013). Given the challenges in implementing digital literacy interventions in classroom settings, innovative approaches to supplement classroom instruction on digital literacy are needed. Thus, it is timely to explore how collaborations between different disciplines can allow for a more integrative, holistic approach to improving youth digital literacy.

Interventions have long focused on personal responsibility where individuals are expected to negotiate the risks and opportunities of the online world, rather than the responsibilities of the community, state, institutions, or developers of technologies to support individuals (Bulger & Davison, 2018). Consequently, there has been a recent surge of efforts to foster news literacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship among corporations, policy makers, non-profits, and national organizations to create curricula, resources, and instructional materials for parents and educators, fund and conduct research, and expand corporate initiatives to protect and empower users (Bulger & Davison, 2018). For example, in 2017, Facebook initiated their Journalism Project aimed at improving the media literacy of its users (Bulger & Davison, 2018). This involved establishing collaborations and partnerships between Facebook and the news industry, developing a series of PSAs promoting news literacy, improvements on the Facebook platform to curb the spread of misinformation, and bringing together experts to help decide on what new research to conduct and projects to fund (Simo, 2017). Although these sectors are making steps towards supporting digital literacy, what remains largely unexplored is how entertainment and television can also engage in this nationwide effort.

An Opportunity for Entertainment Education

Digital literacy represents a unique opportunity for collaboration between public health and the entertainment and media industry via entertainment education. Entertainment education (or edutainment) incorporates health and other educational messages into popular entertainment media with the goal of positively influencing awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and/or behaviors (Moyer-Gusé, 2008). While there have been media-based interventions that aim to build digital literacy by critiquing films or television shows, using entertainment education to improve digital literacy has largely been an untapped avenue. However, digital technologies are already central to storylines of popular young adult television series, such as Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, supporting the potential for the development of entertaining storylines that can educate audiences about skills, strategies, and responsibilities of navigating the internet, social media, and other digital technologies in a way that is relevant and resonating with today’s youth audiences.

One potential framework that may serve as a tool for interested producers and screenwriters is the Sábido Methodology. The Sábido approach uses the soap opera melodrama to communicate prosocial messages. Often credited with the beginning of entertainment education (EE), Miguel Sábido, a Latin American artist and intellectual best known in Mexico for his theater and television works, created a methodology articulating a theoretical and empirical research-based formula to construct media messages that initiate socially desirable attitudes and behaviors (Nariman, 1993). A central pillar of the Sábido approach is role modeling. Thus, there are characters that represent the socially desirable behavior and consequences when characters rebel against the behavior. Through these narratives, spectators can learn how they would handle or overcome similar experiences.

More recently, this approach has been applied in the Hulu original East Los High. With an all Latino cast and crew, East Los High utilizes principles of EE and transmedia storytelling to reach, engage, and ultimately influence young Latino/a American knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors as a response to persistent challenges in teen pregnancy and adolescent sexual and reproductive health (Wang & Singhal, 2016). A recent evaluation of the show’s first season demonstrated wide audience reach, strong viewer engagement, and a positive cognitive, emotional, and social impact on sexual and reproductive health communication and education (Wang & Singhal, 2016). The show also demonstrated success by being consistently rated as a top show on Hulu and drawing 1 million unique visitors each month to the Hulu Latino webpage (Wang & Singhal, 2016). Similarly, producers may use the Sábido approach to create content that can model socially desirable behaviors around best practices with digital technologies in an engaging, but safe environment for adolescents. Population Media Center, which helped produce the first season of East Los High, describes the process of developing entertainment education content in 5 steps.

How is an entertainment education show constructed? (Population Media Center, 2018)

1.     Know your audience. Conduct ethnographic and formative research to understand the realities, issues, opportunities, and challenges that the target audience experiences. This research should inform character development, storylines, media placement, and issue treatment, so that they can better resonate with target audiences.

2.     Integrate behavior change theory. Understand how people learn and make decisions, and the factors that contribute to their attitudes and behaviors. The show content is designed to motivate the audience to adopt certain behaviors, create self-efficacy, and build resiliency. The format of the show is also derived from behavior change theory, requiring storylines to extend over many episodes and involve characters that behave as role models that face similar struggles, such that audiences can learn how to handle similar challenges.

3.     Integrate entertainment-industry insight. In order to address sensitive topics and provide knowledge, improved sense of agency, and the desire to adopt new behavioral options, audiences need to be engaged and entertained to be willing to hear the messages presented on the show.

4.     Monitor and evaluate the show and its impact. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of each show ensures programs are on track and provide learning for current and future programs.

5.     Ensure culturally-specificity. Not only should the storylines and the presentation of the health issue be relatable and culturally-specific, but the creative and production process should also be culturally-specific. In other words, hire local writers, actors, and production staff from target audiences whenever possible. The team should be trained in the methodology for show creation and for overall operating procedures, including show marketing, monitoring and evaluation, and others.


 Population Media Center:

Nariman, H. N. (1993). Soap operas for social change: Toward a methodology for entertainment-education television. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Storylines relevant to digital literacy are already present in television entertainment. Popular shows like the recently renewed series Will & Grace, which is known for its subtle but poignant cultural commentary, has addressed pertinent issues such as fake news and how the internet and social media play a role in politics and democracy.

Another example is the 2017 film Ingrid Goes West, a black comedy exploring society’s conflicting feelings towards social media, which won best screenplay in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance (Variety, 2017). The story follows the story of Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), a young woman who moves out to California in hopes of befriending her new Instagram obsession—social media “influencer” Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). In interviews with the cast and producers, they discuss how the film serves as a social critique of social media and the online generation (The New York Times, 2017). Through humor and wit, the film addresses issues of loneliness and isolation, authenticity, obsession and online versus real connection and ultimately encourages constructive discussion around the use of social media and digital citizenship.

As these recent examples have shown, there is ample opportunity for television and film to create educational, yet entertaining content about digital literacy for youth audiences. These kinds of storylines are not only entertaining, but also tap into the current zeitgeist about the implications of digital technologies on daily life. Entertainment education takes this a step further, such that prosocial messages are carefully constructed based on comprehensive, formative research about the target audience and their experiences with the issue at hand. One of the many strengths of entertainment education is that including digital literacy messages into popular media can increase reach and affect audiences at a larger scale than a typical classroom-based intervention. Further, transmedia narratives can complement entertainment education efforts to create immersive experiences that allow audiences to engage with the educational material on television and apply digital literacy skills across platforms in innovative ways. Just as entertainment education has proven to be an innovative, effective communication platform in the field of public health, television can have a powerful role in teaching digital literacy through the power of storytelling, role-modeling, and audience engagement.

(References available separately.)

Becky Brooks

August, 2018




 Top Female Executives Across All Areas of Media To Receive Inaugural Gracies Leadership Award in November 2018

 NEW YORK, NY (August 23, 2018) – For more than 60 years, The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), through the annual Gracie Awards, has honored women and men in television, radio and interactive media for their outstanding contributions and achievements in creating programming and entertainment by, for and about women. Today, AWM announced a new Gracie Award – one that will recognize the contributions of countless female executives who pave the way as change-agents, shattering glass ceilings across the industry.

This strategic move by the AWM board unifies all of the organization’s recognition programs under one umbrella: the Gala event in Los Angeles that awards national and global content creators and contributors; the Luncheon in New York celebrating story tellers at the local level as well as student creatives; and now the Gracies Leadership Award. This award is a modification of AWM’s former Women Who Lead Award, appropriately intensified and emboldened through its alignment with the prestigious Gracies brand.

“So, why this? Why now? Even after decades of bestowing the coveted Gracie Award on the producers, directors, actors and writers, something was still missing,” said Becky Brooks, Executive Director, AWM. “The award is named for the iconic and brilliant Gracie Allen, equally a talent as well as visionary business leader.  Now, the Alliance for Women in Media will recognize the contributions of all individuals who work tirelessly to ensure creation and delivery of the very best in programming around the world.”

The Gracies Leadership Award closes the circle, honoring women who lead the media industry, from owners to founders to C-suite executives. The inaugural class will be recognized at a luncheon on November 13, 2018, at the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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About the Alliance for Women in Media (AWM): The Alliance for Women in Media connects, recognizes and inspires women across the media industry. AWM is a diverse community – whether type of media, job or global location – that facilitates industry-wide collaboration, education, and innovation. Established in 1951 as American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT), AWM is the longest-established professional association dedicated to advancing women in media and entertainment. AWM harnesses the promise, passion and power of women in all forms of media to empower career development, engage in thought leadership, and drive positive change for our industry and societal progress.

Becky Brooks

June, 2018


Alliance for Women in Media Foundation Successfully Completes 43rd Annual Gracies Luncheon

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 27: Judy Woodruff and Jane Pauley attend The Gracies, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Alliance For Women In Media Foundation)


Judy Woodruff Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award,

CNN’s Erica Hill Hosted and Country Artist Jessie Chris Performed
at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City


June 28, 2018 (New York City) – Yesterday the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) presented the 43rd Annual Gracie Awards at a luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Host Erica Hill of CNN led the program alongside presenters Pam Oliver from FOX Sports; multimedia host, actress and author Angie Martinez; April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks and CNN; and Larry Mullins from Entercom’s 1010 WINS. The Gracie Awards were presented to honorees which were previously announced (full list of honorees here) in recognition of individual achievement and outstanding programming by, for and about women in local and student TV, radio and interactive media.

Highlights from the show included:

  • AWMF Board Chair and Katz Radio Group President Christine Travaglini opened the Luncheon. After welcoming the record-breaking crowd, she introduced AWM Board Treasurer and Gracies Co-Chair Heather Cohen, executive vice president of The Weiss Agency.
  • Lifetime Achievement Honoree Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour, was presented her award by last year’s Honoree Jane Pauley, who said, “There should be no more exalted role in society than the role of journalists. When that ceases to be, we will no longer rightfully call ourselves a free society. Judy Woodruff deserves recognition for lifetime as much as anyone I can think of. Furthermore, she has earned it.” When accepting the award, Woodruff captivated the audience and spoke strongly with regard to women in media, “We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. We need more women in decision-making jobs, more women doing the hiring, more women deciding which stories get covered, and more women reaching out to bring along younger women like the remarkable women we are seeing here today.”
  • Erica Hill, CNN anchor and correspondent, hosted the awards. Hill has a rich history with the Gracie Awards as the 2015 honoree for Outstanding Correspondent. When presenting the awards for outstanding work in Local Market Television, Hill said, “Local markets are more important today than ever as newsrooms shrink, and newspapers are shuttered. Local reporters hold officials accountable – they tell the stories that matter in the moment. They get to the heart of the issues. They inform, they educate, and they help.”
  • 2018 Billboard Artist-to-Watch Country Singer Jessie Chris performed and spoke about her passion as an anti-bullying advocate. Chris, the victim of extreme bullying as a student, is an anti-bullying advocate who has supported the Ad Council’s #BeMore Campaign and Disney’s #ChooseKindness campaign.
  • Presenter Larry Mullins from Entercom’s 1010 WINS was a lively presenter who not only spoke, but also sang, “We talk about the Oprahs, we talk about the Barbara Walters, we talk about the Judy Blumes, Jane Pauley, and so many others that I’ve seen here today, and then it goes all the way to the Shonda Rhimes. Sisters your day has come. Your day is now!”

The National Gracie Award honorees were recognized at the Gracies Gala, May 22, at The Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Again, a full list of recipients may be found on the Alliance for Women in Media website.

Photos from the 43rd annual Gracies Luncheon may be viewed at the following link:

About the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation and The Gracie Awards – The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (formerly known as The Foundation of American Women in Radio & Television) supports and promotes educational programs, and scholarships to benefit the media, the public, and allied fields. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation has created partnerships and joint initiatives with the Emma Bowen Foundation, NCTA, NAB and other organizations that are philosophically aligned with the mission of the Foundation. In addition to giving $20,000 a year in scholarships to deserving female students, the Foundation also produces nationally acclaimed recognition programs, including the Gracie Awards that exemplary honor programming created by, for and about women.

Sponsors of The Gracies Luncheon include: CBS, Beasley Media Group, Cumulus, Discovery, Entercom, Katz Media Group, NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, PBS NewsHour, Sinclair, TEGNA, vCreative and WideOrbit.

For more information about The Alliance for Women in Media, please visit: and follow on Twitter, Instagram (@AllWomeninMedia) (#TheGracies), and Facebook.

Becky Brooks

June, 2018


Alliance for Women in Media Foundation Announces Judy Woodruff as Lifetime Achievement Honoree for 43rd Annual Gracies Luncheon


CNN’s Erica Hill to Host and Country Artist Jessie Chris to Perform
at June 27 Event at Cipriani 42nd Street

June 5, 2018 (New York City) – The leadership of the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) announces that Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour,” will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 43rd Annual Gracie Awards Luncheon. Hosting the luncheon will be another television news veteran, Erica Hill of CNN. The annual Gracies Luncheon honors individual achievement and outstanding programming at the local level for TV and radio, public level for radio and student level for TV, radio and interactive media. It will take place June 27 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

The Gracie Awards recognize individual achievement and outstanding programming created by, for and about women in all facets of media and entertainment. Given this year to Woodruff, who has covered politics and other news for more than four decades, the Gracies Lifetime Achievement Award honors a woman in media who exemplifies and embodies the essence of the iconic trailblazer, the late Gracie Allen, the namesake of The Gracie Awards.

“The Gracie Awards celebrate the female storytellers who are changing the narrative and pushing boundaries in the quest toward diversity and equality,” said AWMF Chair Christine Travaglini, President, Katz Radio Group. “Since the beginning of her journalism career in 1976, Judy Woodruff’s connected, well-researched approach is consistently present and illustrates why she is so worthy of this

Lifetime Achievement Award. We at AWM and AWMF, through the Gracies, are incredibly proud to honor and celebrate outstanding talent and content for, by and about women.”

Woodruff’s award-winning career includes roles at CNN, NBC, and PBS:

•  For 12 years, she served as anchor and senior correspondent for CNN.

•  At PBS from 1983-1993, Woodruff was the chief Washington correspondent for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. From 1984-1990, she also anchored PBS’ documentary series, “Frontline with Judy Woodruff.”

•  At NBC News, Woodruff was White House correspondent for several years and served one year as Chief Washington Correspondent for “TODAY.”

•  She also anchored a monthly program for Bloomberg Television, “Conversations with Judy Woodruff.”

Among the many awards, Woodruff has received the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television. She also authored the book, “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House,” published in 1982. Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in communication industries worldwide.

“I am thrilled to receive a Gracie from the Alliance for Women in Media, a truly pioneering organization in promoting women across the spectrum of media careers,” says Woodruff. “Since its start as AWRT, it has been dedicated to creating opportunities for women and, thankfully, we see the results all around us.”

Gracies Luncheon host Erica Hill is a TV anchor and award-winning journalist. She serves as an anchor and correspondent for CNN. Most recently, Hill anchored CNN’s Headline News, “On the Story with Erica Hill.” She was previously a co-anchor of NBC’s weekend edition of “TODAY,” and served as an anchor and correspondent for NBC News. Before joining NBC, Hill was an anchor and correspondent at CBS News.

In 2015, AWMF honored Hill with the Gracie Award for Outstanding Correspondent. “It’s an honor to host the Gracies, and to be among the most inspiring, empowering and talented women in our business,” said Hill. “I am thrilled that we will recognize the incomparable Judy Woodruff. She’s an icon, and someone I have always looked up to not only as a journalist but as a human being.”

Performing will be 2018 Billboard Artist-to-Watch Jessie Chris. Chris was the first country artist to be named “TODAY” Show Artist of The Month, and she was the youngest performer at the 2015 CMA Festival, an event she has also performed at in 2017 and 2018. Chris, the victim of extreme bullying as a student, is an anti-bullying advocate who has supported the Ad Council’s #BeMore Campaign and Disney’s #ChooseKindness campaign. This year, she will visit 100 schools across the country to speak with students about bullying and recently formed a partnership to share songs, inspirational quotes and vlogs directly with children and families through the Mazu app. Chris authored a children’s book on the subject, which will be released this summer.

The National Gracie Award honorees were recognized at the Gracies Gala, May 22, at The Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. A full list of recipients may be found on the Alliance for Women in Media website. For more information about the 2018 Gracies Luncheon or to secure tickets, please visit here.

About the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation and The Gracie Awards
The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (formerly known as The Foundation of American Women in Radio & Television) supports and promotes educational programs, and scholarships to benefit the media, the public, and allied fields. The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation has created partnerships and joint initiatives with the Emma Bowen Foundation, NCTA, NAB and other organizations that are philosophically aligned with the mission of the Foundation. In addition to giving $20,000 a year in scholarships to deserving female students, the Foundation also produces nationally acclaimed recognition programs, including the Gracie Awards that exemplary honor programming created by, for and about women.

For more information about The Alliance for Women in Media, please visit: and follow on Twitter, Instagram (@AllWomeninMedia) (#TheGracies), and Facebook. Sponsors of The Gracies include Ford Motor Company, Crown Media Group, CNN, CBS Corporation, Discovery, Inc., FOX Sports, NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, Premiere Networks, SiriusXM, Katz Media Group, Beasley Media Group and Entercom.