Catherine Combs

April, 2019


Natalie Edelstein, 2018 Ford “Emerging Voices” Scholarship Recipient

For my final blog post for the Alliance for Women in Media, I wanted to express my gratitude for the organization and all that it does to advance diversity and inclusion in the industry.

Formed in 1951, the organization was known as the American Women in Radio and Television and was a part of the women’s division of the National Association of Broadcasters. That same year, Marguerite Higgins became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. It was a historic time for women in the industry, however women were not being recognized to the same degree as their male colleagues, nor did they have the same professional opportunities.

As time went on, the Alliance for Women in Media continued to develop new ways to advance opportunities for women. In 1960 the alliance became the first professional broadcasting organization to establish an educational foundation, and in 1975, they began an annual award program recognizing the people in the media that represented the changing roles, issues, and concerns of women. Around that time Cosmopolitan Magazine relaunched as a magazine for women with Helen Gurley Brown as its first Editor in Chief and a few years later, Barbara Walters became the first female news anchor on network television. In 1978 Boylan et al v. The New York Times became a landmark case for female journalists. The ruling allowed women the same promotion opportunities as men as well as equal pay.

Despite these groundbreaking moments, there is still work for the Alliance to do. A report from the United Nations, that utilize research spanning more than 100 countries, found that 46% of news stories, in print and on radio and television, uphold gender stereotypes, while only 6% highlight gender equality. According to another global study spanning 522 news media organizations, behind the scenes, men still occupy 73% of top media management positions.  Additionally, while women represent half of the world’s population, less than one third of all speaking characters in film are female.

From 1951 to today, the work the Alliance for Women in Media does is vitally important to the longevity of the media industry. Their scholarships support young women across the industry at schools all over the nation in their pursuit of journalism, communication, film and other degrees. The Gracie Awards allow those who work tirelessly to better the industry a moment of recognition and the programming and events the Alliance works on allows women to network and learn from experts in the industry.

I feel immensely grateful to have been selected to represent the Alliance this year. The scholarship I received has helped me pursue my MA in Strategic Communication and better understand the media landscape and the issues facing the industry today. I look forward to participating in events with the Alliance for Women in Media long after my scholarship comes to an end.