Whitman alumnus and NYT reporter Gillian Friedman and Parents magazine editor Kelly Glass discuss journalism’s ‘beautiful and perfect business’ – Whitman Wire


On October 21, Gillian Friedman, former Whitman business reporter for the New York Times, and Kelly Glass, editor-in-chief of Black Parenting for Parents Magazine, spoke to Whitman students on Zoom about their careers. Hosted by Assistant English Professor Kisha Schlegel, the two esteemed journalists discussed the tumultuous nature of their work, and its pay, to a journalist’s unmatched passion.

Before winning a scholarship with the New York Times, Friedman worked for a number of small publications, collaborating with people who had religious and political perspectives different from his own. What she loves about journalism is the constant rivalry between opinions.

Photo by David Lu.

“It’s a beautiful, perfect effort, to try to represent all of these different truths, knowing that you will always fail one way or another,” Friedman said. “Where else do we find ourselves really able to talk to people with very different views from our own? “

Objectivity is deeply rooted in the public’s perception of journalism. In recent years, prominent publications have come under scrutiny for political bias in articles.

Objectivity is an important but impossible ideal, something journalists always work towards, but never fully attain.

“For me it’s actually damaging, especially as a journalist of color and journalists from other marginalized groups,” Glass said. “At its core, it’s this idea that the white heterosexual perspective… is neutral. Everything else outside of that was outside of objectivity.

Glass recognized that everyone has a bias, and journalists should lessen the interference of personal beliefs in their methodical approach: the way writers find sources and report stories.

Considering different perspectives and forming your own opinion takes extra effort. In its ideal form, this is the role of the media: to educate citizens so that they can form their own opinion. Democratic societies rely on the free press, where journalism can flourish.

“I believe in it so much,” Friedman said. “Good journalism can change the world and I want to be one of those journalists who do. You really have to have that fire in your stomach because it’s the kind of thing that won’t be easy… You have to be prepared to fight for it.

As much as the two women enjoy their careers, they have admitted to the financial difficulties that accompany the industry.

“My first independent music video paid like pennies,” said Glass. “I knew that in order to get to The Washington Post, New York Times signatures, I had to start somewhere.”

Photo by David Lu.

Even now that Friedman is working for the New York Times she is still worried about her financial future.

“Now that I see 30, I’m worried… Are you okay with having a job that might never exceed six digits?” Do you know what this means in terms of being able to live in a big city? Friedman said. “You have to think about it. “

Glass and Friedman both stressed the importance of persistence in their field. Wako Soma, a junior in Professor Schlegel’s Introductory Creative Writing Course who attended the virtual panel, said she was particularly struck by this sense of persistence.

Soma recalled Friedman’s reluctance to email her teachers, but now, as a reporter, “she sends five or more emails to get what she wants,” Soma said.

Before working for the New York Times, Friedman recalled his relentless networking. She would send email after email to successful journalists, including some from the NYT. Most of the time she was ignored, but every now and then she heard back.

Networking for Glass looked different. She joined communities of journalists where members helped each other, offering skills and connections to help her peers. Glass entered these spaces seeking to give, not necessarily to win.

“When the time was right, people watched over me,” Glass said. “Perseverance is absolutely essential. The journalist who persists is the one who will emerge victorious.

A recording of the student-journalist panel is available in line.

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