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While on Emily Ramshaw's maternity leave four years ago, she overheard many conversations about choice and sympathy. These gender-specific conversations sparked an idea.
"We had these talks because a woman was running for president," says Ramshaw. "And I was like, 'What would the news environment be like if there was a news source, a politics, and a political news source made by and for women? "
She took a break with a newborn at home.
“But four years later it came back to me on a different election cycle, a historic election cycle that had more women running than ever before, and the same conversations about electoral and sympathy were at the fore. And at that moment I just thought, 'You know what? I thought about it four years ago, I can't wait another four years. I have to get this off the ground. "
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Ramshaw talks to Jessica Abo about The 19th *, a non-profit, impartial newsroom focused on women, politics and politics. It also gives tips on how to get involved in the political process and gives details on the upcoming virtual summit of the 19th *.
Jessica Abo: When people go to your website, what will they find?
Ramshaw: What you can find on our website is not the news of the day, but pink. You will find serious journalism that is really aimed at exposing the differences, the way women remain disadvantaged in virtually all areas, whether it's the health system, whether it's the economy, whether it's a Representative government acts and how women of skin color in particular have faced the toughest hits.
Where do you have employees across the country?
Ramshaw: We're starting with probably the most diverse newsroom staff in an American news organization. These are predominantly black women who are resident across the country, whether this is Des Moines, whether this is Orlando, whether this is Austin, Texas, DC, LA. We are all over the country and we really want to reflect the nation's women to be scattered in the places where the nation's women live.
You worked as a journalist for many years. Tell us a little about what you've learned about entrepreneurship.
Ramshaw: First of all, I had never raised a single dollar before we decided to start the 19th, which I call a truly entrepreneurial non-profit. I knew how to run a newsroom. I knew journalism like the back of my hand. I knew about stories. What I didn't really know was how to start a business from scratch.
One of the things I've learned over the last year that we've tried to build this company is how to make a compelling case for the work you want to build. This is how you ensure that people are financially behind your message and mission. It's about creating a sustainable business plan, a self-sustaining organization that encourages exceptional journalists to leave their jobs to work for us – that kind of path and a track record.
It was an incredible year, a very steep learning curve for me, but still very exciting.
When someone thinks, “Wow, it's so overwhelming to get involved in the political process.” What small steps can people take to get involved?
Ramshaw: The first is to vote on every single election. No choice is too big or too small. That means everything from your school board to the president. It is absolutely the best way to expand our voice and collective strength, and that is the first place to start.
The second is that it really makes sense to go to your local city council meeting and see how the sausage is made in person. The legislative policy that most directly affects women's lives takes place in their home communities. Start there, and if you're feeling ambitious, go from there to your state assembly and testify before a legislative committee. You will never see government more direct than there.
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Three for me would come out of your echo chamber. We all spend a lot of time on our own curated Facebook feeds, reading the news sources that we really trust. We're not going to move the needle, especially on gender equality when the same women talk to the same women all the time. We have to understand what the people who disagree with us think, why they think that way, empathize with their decision-making. That starts with relying on and learning from news and information sources that you are not entirely familiar with.
And the last thing is, if you want to tick all of these boxes and get even more involved, then you are running for office. We know that women are underrepresented at virtually every level of government, whether running for city council or for the presidency. One organization that is doing a really great job in this area is All in Together. You can check them out on their website. They are working to get impartial women more involved in the citizenry and to encourage them to run. It's a really good place to start if you're looking for information on how to get more involved.
A virtual summit is on the agenda for people who want to get involved from the comfort of their own home. Tell us about it.
Ramshaw: The 19th is apparently launching its news platform, but we're running a week of virtual programming the week of August 10-14 to really improve women's voices on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. You can expect to see Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Elise Stefanik, Melinda Gates, dozens of first-time officials, the first trans woman to be elected to a legislature, the first Native American woman in Congress in this country. And some incredible arts and performances on top of that. Meryl Streep is doing some really amazing election readings with Zoë Saldaña. We're going to have the entire New York Philharmonic Orchestra perform the work of black composers. The Go-Go's Coming Back Together, the first all-female band to top the Billboard charts. It's free, you don't want to miss it. You can check us out at 19thnews.org.
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