The Past Is the Future

Each year at the NFPW conference I hear stories from our distinguished members about their early experiences in journalism. Years later as they share the stories, we can laugh and marvel at what they experienced.

Most of us believe that we’ve come so far from those days. But as with all history it’s good to not forget. And several recent studies point out that women still aren’t equal to their male counterparts.

The American Association of University Women reported in a study a few years ago that women right out of college make only 80 percent as much as their male peers. It’s also one of the reasons the National Council for Research on Women has begun promoting mentors and peer support for younger women.

And here’s where NFPW can come in. How simple would it be to partner one of our experienced members with a first-timer at the next national conference? That’s one of Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas’ ideas for the conference next year. The two can meet in Chicago “Face to Face” and then continue the mentoring via phone, email, text, Twitter or whatever the newest way to communicate will be.

We also don’t want to lose the lessons and stories of those who blazed the trails for us. Over the next few months, I plan to interview former NFPW presidents about their experiences and lessons learned. Our membership is rich with experience; we need to capture it and learn and grow from it.

NFPW also provides newer, less experienced members with outstanding leadership and learning opportunities. Assisting with a conference or serving on the state affiliate board or the NFPW board provides opportunities that often enhance leadership opportunities in the career sector. I learned my event planning skills by coordinating several conferences for Virginia Press Women and eventually co-chairing the 2007 NFPW conference in Richmond. When I began my career, I would not have known the first thing to do.

I first heard about social media years ago at an NFPW conference. I remember sitting in the room (I don’t even recall what state we were in) and being completely overwhelmed. I wasn’t alone. But I realized that was the future,and I needed to understand it. Today I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and have my own blog.

Without NFPW I would be behind the curve.

So let’s learn and grow,taking the wisdom of those who have gone before us. And let’s help our younger, newer members so that they, too, can continue to blaze the trail for the next generation.