By Becky Brooks, AWM/F Executive Director
At the end of each year, many of us stop to take time to reflect on what we have seen, experienced and learned, and then, hopefully, how to take that into the next year. It is often a time to also consider those historical moments that emerge, and in the case of 2019, it was significant. And each of you, the community of the Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), provide your own unique window for the world to see, experience and learn.
Increasingly, watching television, listening to the radio or to a podcast can feel overwhelming with divisiveness and endless opinions on just about every topic. Amid hearing those stories – a common theme that emerged at AWM in 2019 – is courage.
Courage was prominently in the background of the magnificent storytelling we experienced while reviewing content for the 2019 Gracies Awards. Just a few examples were Noor Tagouri’s podcast series Sold in America that researched the sex trade industry from every angle; Leah Remini executive producing and hosting a program, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath that revealed the truths of a religion in which she previously participated; Madison Lawson, a student from the University of Missouri, telling her story of living with a disability (and flying to New York to accept the award!) and LaDona Harvey on iHeart’s AM 600 KOGO reminding us in her interview, “I am NOT grateful, I am qualified”.
Each of these Gracie winners had the courage to tell a story. And many times, through courage also comes hope. Just this year: A record number of women were installed in congress; the largest class of African American women graduated from West Point; an entire community in Texas showed up to a funeral to support a man who lost his wife in a mass shooting so that he wasn’t alone; a group of women in Iran seeing their first soccer game from the stands, an activity that was once forbidden; and, a child hosting a hot chocolate stand to pay for a classmates’ lunch at school. That – is hope.
One of our favorite stories at AWM is the courage it took for a group of women in the 1950’s to form a group called the American Women in Radio & Television – now known as the Alliance for Women in Media. They created the path for the community we have today, and our current leadership continues to forge that path.
AWM has given nearly $20,000 in scholarships, created an online community forum for our members, interviewed more women (and men!) in media to relaunch our Gracie Interview Series to provide insight and education and heard first-hand the harrowing experience of Elizabeth Smart during her keynote at the Gracies Leadership Awards where we also heard from six inspiring and fearless leaders in our industry about their career journeys.
On a personal level, these stories give me hope and courage for the future. As my husband and I raise two kids who are seeing and experiencing life in a different way than we did – we can tell them the stories you have the courage to tell and encourage them to do the same. We have friends who have experienced unimaginable health scares and loss – yet our personal community rallies to support one another – just as we see happening in communities across the country.
AWM is committed to do even more in 2020. We will recognize story tellers, bring communities together through our membership and events and connect women (and men) in radio, television and digital medias who may not otherwise have known one another. We ask you to join AWM, submit your content for Gracies consideration, judge Gracie Awards, attend an event – stay connected.
Our challenge to you in the new year is to continue telling important stories and to give hope.
Cheers to 2020!