Women in media, sexism and the threat of burnout

I was never really interested in women’s issues and feminism until I entered college. I thought I’d been fortunate in my life and thought I had never experienced sexism or discrimination based on my gender. But as I spent more time in college I began realizing little ways in how I was being treated differently because I am female — the catcalls I’d receive when driving in my convertible, the men on the street who would tell me to smile, the older men (often residing in positions of authority or who were sources I was interviewing) who would call me “a nice, local girl,” when they learned that I’m from Missouri.

Before college, I never thought of myself as a feminist. I thought sexism was largely a thing of the past and I wasn’t interested in the topic. Now, I go on tangents about women’s issues and the patriarchy and male gaze. I listen to Beyoncé’s “Flawless” at least once a week on full volume and have a Rosie the Riveter poster hanging in my room. Last night I was watching “National Treasure” with my roommates (don’t judge) and it bothered me that someone like Diane Kruger was cast as Nicholas’ Cage’s love interest — because, really, when would that ever happen?

Today I went to the Women in Media panel as part of the Missouri Honor Medal celebrations and classes. I was immediately interested in the topic and as soon as I heard that Jacqui Banaszynski was the moderator, aka a goddess badass journalist and everything I want to be, I made the decision to skip my Ancient Western Philosophy class and go.

Jacqui immediately threw out a statistic that terrified me — she said, about 70 percent of journalism students are women, but there are only about 25 percent of women in newsrooms.

So, what happened to all the women?

The answers vary. Sexism, internet trolls, and the demands of the job tend to drive women away. The panelists talked a lot about how journalism isn’t a regular, nine-to-five job. “Journalism is your life,” they said, and that demand is hard on a lot of women.

Burn-out is something that worries me. I can see how women are especially affected, since many women want to have families and it can be difficult to be married and have children while you’re working a job as demanding and unpredictable as journalism. Personally, I don’t know if I want to get married and have kids, but one thing I have always been adamant about is that I refuse to let a job rule my life. I don’t want journalism to be the main focus of my life. And sometimes it worries me that it will be.

A fellow student asked the question that has been burning in my mind for the last year — when your career is affecting your personal life in a negative way, what can you do?

The answer: “Cry and drink.”

Tbh that’s how I coped with the stress of journalism and personal issues all last year, and I can’t say it worked out well for me. Yes, journalism is a hard job, but I think that I and other women can find that balance. (Insert obnoxious: “Can women have it all?” question. What the heck is “IT”?).

What happens when a words person and a design person make a multimedia package

Multimedia assignments have always freaked me out. I’m a words person. I don’t know how to operate expensive video cameras and audio equipment. I’m barely capable of editing clips into something coherent. I hate being so reliant on technology and I have often fallen victim to dead batteries and off white balances. So when I found out that I had to put together a multimedia project yet again for the Missourian, I was heartbroken.

It didn’t make me feel more at ease when I received an email informing me that my project was the first deadline in the class — nine days away. Me and my partner, Amy, scrambled to put together a one-minute piece of video for the Missourian Minute series in just one week, while every other group in the class had at least two weeks to do so.

And, as with all of my past experiences with multimedia, we hit a lot of bumps in the road.

Amy went out of town for three days, leaving me incapable to work without her. The two possible subjects wouldn’t return our calls. Finally we lined up an interview, but the subject wasn’t available until Friday — the day our final project was supposed to be filmed, edited and turned in. We met the source at a sketchy office below a parking garage downtown. As soon as we walked into the little office, my heart sank — we had nothing visually appealing about this interview. No available B-roll. The environment we were promised as we arranged the meeting was not delivered.

We conducted a quick interview anyway, unable to zoom and without a tripod. We left the interview in a panic. After explaining the situation to our TA, we were fortunate enough to get an extension and desperately scoured the interwebs for something new to cover and create a package on in under 24 hours.

Which brought us to DoDeca-Con.

I had no idea what I was expecting, but people dressed as Ewoks and anime characters wasn’t it. Colorful characters winded through the halls as they waited to participate in the costume contest. Vendors filled a convention room, selling everything from medieval swords to furry tails to comics and art. We approached one vendor, two women who sold steampunk-inspired accessories, and within moments we knew we had our story.

We ran back to Amy’s dorm and sorted through the video and audio clips. We spent three hours in the newsroom the next day finishing out final product. Everything worked out and it’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I know having these multimedia skills is important for being a journalist, but for now I’m happy to get to stick to words for the rest of the semester.

Welcome to Junior Year, the Missourian, and Eight-Hour GA Shifts

This week has held a lot of firsts for me. My first day of junior year. My first time getting a parking ticket. My first time taking a sunrise yoga class. And today was my first GA shift at the Columbia Missourian, Columbia’s city newspaper.

From the moment you step onto campus as a freshman journalist, the Missourian is this big, scary, impending obstacle that looms over you. You know it’s coming, you’ve heard how hard it is, and all you can do is practice writing at the campus newspaper and hope you can just get through the J4450 semester.

When I walked into the newsroom during orientation, I was, and honestly still am, intimidated.

It didn’t make things better when I realized that my first General Assignment shift would be held during a walkout demonstration by graduate assistants. After prepping for the day to come by reading through articles for hours the day before, waking up before dawn for sunrise yoga, and grabbing my favorite Starbucks combo — a grande white mocha with a chocolate croissant — I set out for GA, armed with my reporter’s notebook and pen.

After some early-morning live-tweeting, my GA shift mainly consisted of calling MIA sources and leaving voice mails from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Two stories fell through simply because nobody would respond to my messages, and a third story is looking like it’ll be dropped by tomorrow.

This wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go.

But even though the day was full of setbacks, I found myself enjoying the job. I love being in a newsroom. I love making friends with the other reporters, something I’m finding astonishingly quick and effortless to do. I love working with editors and ACES who take the time to help us newbies.

I may not have a byline just yet, but I’m excited for the semester and stories to come. Maybe the Missourian isn’t so scary after all.

One Mizzou: Love always wins

Today love proved it was stronger than hate. Today I joined over approximately 2,000 other students to build a human wall, blocking the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest against Michael Sam, the former Mizzou defensive end who announced Sunday that he is gay.

The event, Stand With Sam, was organized on Facebook this week, with nearly 5,000 attendees. The plan: make a human wall, arm and arm, wearing black and gold, to peacefully protest Westboro’s “preachings” of hate.

Westboro Baptist Church. This “church” is based out of Kansas and is known nationwide for its extremist, intolerant beliefs. They travel around the country protesting anything they deem “sinful,” particularly homosexuality. (They also frequently protest the funerals of fallen soldiers because they believe God is punishing the United States).

Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

This is what I don’t understand: where does all the hate come from? Why are people so full of hatred? What makes Westboro travel hours out of their way just to wave signs saying “Death Penalty 4 Fags?” Why do people try to impose their own personal views onto others?

Sometimes the world can be an ugly place, especially the people in it.

But today, the world is beautiful. And it was made that way by those who came out to support Michael Sam. People passed out “Stand with Sam” buttons, wore shirts that read “We’re All Como Sexual,” and held up signs with “I Love You” written on them. They stood in 27 degree weather for two hours, holding the wall strong. They put their arms around one another and sang the alma mater. They chanted M-I-Z Z-O-U and M-I-Z S-A-M. They turned their backs on the Westboro picketing.

Thousands of students came out to support Michael Sam. Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Thousands of students came out to support Michael Sam. Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
One Mizzou. Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
One Mizzou. Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Photo courtest stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

Later this afternoon after Westboro left and the wall disbanded, this appeared on the group’s Twitter:

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Pathetic?

Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

Today I was so incredibly proud of my school and this town. No matter what your beliefs are, Mizzou supports their own. We are a family. We are one. And no matter how much hate exists or how strong that hate is, love will always triumph.

Welcome to Missouri, the “Snow-Me” State

“Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin and they end with no lasting memory made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life.” February 4th was a Tuesday.

Ever since I visited Mizzou during Summer Welcome, I have been eagerly anticipating the day I get to see the the campus covered in a blanket of snow. Jesse Hall, the columns, Memorial Union, everything. Mizzou amazes me with its beauty each and every day, and I could only imagine how gorgeous it would be once snow finally fell.

Today was the day I’ve been looking forward to all these months.

Today I woke up to find CoMo transformed into a winter wonderland. Continuous flurries fell from the sky, accumulating into around five inches of snow. It was cold, of course, but not windy, making the weather bearable. A perfect day to go outside.

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Snow day at the Francis Quadrangle and the iconic columns.

The Hatch 5 family bundled up and braved the snow, trekking across campus and making our way to the Francis Quadrangle, occasionally stopping to pelt each other with poorly made snowballs. It was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

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Jesse Hall, our makeshift hill.

Winter has always been my favorite season, for a variety of reasons- the Holiday season/music/cheer, wearing cozy sweaters and sweatshirts, the warmth of fire places, and, above all, snow. I could spend hours sitting on a windowsill watching the snowfall and drinking hot chocolate. It makes everything so much more beautiful and serene.

Today was my very first college snow day, and it was a day that will stay with me for years to come.

My dear, dear roomie.
My dear, dear roomie.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve had a rough start to the semester. I’ve been feeling sad and alone and more than a little angry, and I’ve been exhausting myself by trying to hide it. This day was exactly what I needed- a day of friends and fun in the snow, sledding down the steps of Jesse Hall (dangerous and terrifying but very fun nonetheless), throwing snowballs, making snow angels, watching the boys slide around playing football, and taking way too many pictures.

It’s crazy how one blissfully perfect day can cancel out two weeks of not-so-great days. Today, the problems that have been plaguing me for the past couple of weeks didn’t exist. Nothing mattered this afternoon. I was there, in the moment, with some of the people I love most. I think this is what Stephen Chbosky was talking about when he wrote The Perks of Being A Wallflower– today, I felt infinite.

And with another snow day called for tomorrow, I can’t wait to do it all over again.

Snow Day group picture
Photo courtesy stephennotsteven.wordpress.com

Today was awesome. Life is awesome. I love my friends. I am so lucky. Hatch 5 forever.

A reflection on my first semester of college

I came into college terrified.

I was so excited to move away, to be on my own, to surround myself with new people and new situation and figure out who the person I want to be is. College was all I could think about for the entirety of my senior year in high school. When I graduated, I was even more ready to enter the world of higher education. And then, unexpectedly but completely normally, when it got down to the one month mark until the fantasy became a reality, I became scared shitless.

Granted, my school is only two hours away from my home and nearly forty of the kids I graduated with in high school are attending the same institution, but on move in day I realized I was completely and utterly alone. Two hours is a long way. Of those forty other Lee’s Summit West survivors, I was only friends with two of them. Neither of which I had any classes with or lived in the same hall with. To top it all off, I had never been away from home before. It was more than a little scary, and I definitely cried in front of my roommate, whom I was meeting for the first time that day.

The first few days were strange. The hall was deserted. I knew there were other people, but I had no idea where to find them or what to say once I did. All but two of the girls in the hall were rushing, which meant they were out of the dorm all day parading around Greek Town. The very first interaction I had with other real living, breathing residents of Hatch Hall were with two guys who kept trying to show me Adventure Time videos on Youtube, which I had no interest in.

But after people started opening their doors and coming out of their rooms, Columbia became a much less frightening place.

A stranger invited me to (an illegal) game of darts in his room with a bunch of other strange and diverse people. I found myself in an unlikely group outing to a magic show, a movie, and Target. Somehow I ended up as part of “The Sandy Balls” volleyball team. We were all in a new town, at a new school, and most of us didn’t know anybody.

As the semester continued, the hall has morphed into what I now refer to as the “Hatch Five family.” It’s amazing how people bond over endless hours of ESPN (against my protests about sharing the lounge tv), cheering on the tigers at football games after degenerate tailgates, almost dying at frat parties, etc. Without a doubt, my favorite part of college is the people I have met and come to care for.

Another big highlight of my first semester of college has been working at The Maneater, the student-run newspaper. I am incredibly honored to be able to work there as a beat writer, and next semester I will be the movie columnist, which is pretty much my dream career. From day one, I have felt nothing but accepted with open arms by the editors and other writers who always work with me on stories, give me advice, and  let me crash their parties unannounced.

Put all of that together, along with classes that went (mostly) without a hitch, and I had one amazing first semester. I’ve made friendships that will last through years to come, memories that I will always hold on to, and a fair share of embarrassing and hilarious stories that I will be sure to recount in the future when I talk about my “college days.”

The year is half over. And that’s scary as hell. I don’t want this time to end, but I’m looking forward to the next semester and the six others that will follow.

Someone once told me, “People say college is the best four years of your life. And yeah, they’re good years, but they’re not the best.”

And right now, I say back, “Bullshit.”

College is the best.

The Zou

As you all know, last night was huge. Bigger than huge. As Barney Stinson would say, “It was Legend…wait for it…dary! Legendary!”

If any of you scrubs don’t know what I’m talking about, last night Mizzou emerged victorious over Texas A&M, beating them 28-21 and moving on to the SEC Championship.

This is a big deal, guys.

After arriving back in Columbia yesterday afternoon, I headed down to the stadium with the rest of my floor at almost 3 hours before game time and managed to snag 3-5th row seats on the 40 yard line (I was sandwiched in the 4th row).

And what a game it was.

The funny thing is, I never cared about football before this season. Not even a little bit. In fact, I disliked how much emphasis was placed on the institution. I went on many rants about how society is too sports-focused and that the perks athletes receive weren’t fair or sensible.

But now my friends send me Snapchats saying things like “Gurl, you’re all about dat football life.” And I’m not, I promise. I just like Mizzou football, okay? I’m not a really fan of any NFL teams and I still don’t really understand everything about the sport as a whole. It’s just that living on a floor of mostly football-oriented guys and attending a big SEC school rubs off on you. And that’s not a bad thing.

And last night after the game when the field was stormed, I was part of the mob. I tripped and almost fell flat on my face twice, I was pushed around in the giant mob, I was separated from all but two of my group. But I made it. And it was great.

Really, I’m just so happy to have been a part of last night’s game. Last night, standing on that field, jumping and chanting “SEC” and “We want Auburn” was the first night I truly felt the “One Mizzou” mantra which has been thrown at us freshmen since Summer Welcome was true. Standing under those lights, we were one. I was and am part of something big.

And there is nowhere else I would rather be going to school.

Kissing the 50 yard line after the game.
Kissing the 50 yard line after the game.