Young Women Journos, Please Read Jill Abramson’s Cosmo Interview

Image via KLRU

Image via KLRU

[Update: Just to clarify, my thoughts shared below concerning any of my professional experiences do not pertain to any specific organization I’ve worked for—past or present. They only represent my collective experiences in media.]

I know I’ve neglected my blog recently and I’m hoping that, in the near future, that’ll change. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post explaining my absence.) Until then, though, I couldn’t not make the time to share this powerful interview Cosmopolitan published last night with the former New York Times editor, Jill Abramson. If, like me, you pay attention to the goings-on of the media world, you’ll remember Abramson was fired from her post at the Times in May. Since then, she hasn’t given an interview to any publication—though, to be clear, she hasn’t stayed silent.

But she’s now given her first interview since the firing and she gave it to Cosmopolitan, which will probably surprise some. But not me. Since Joanna Coles took over as EIC, the magazine has undergone some major changes—more political coverage, more longform, a decidedly stronger feminist perspective—and Abramson clearly noticed. It’s also not unsurprising that in the wake of everything that’s happened, she’d steer clear of the men in media who’ve scorned her and put trust in a publication that serves women, with a mostly female edit. staff. (For insight into Abramson’s mindset, see this tweet.)

Regardless of the reasoning behind her decision to sit down with Cosmo first, this is a poignant interview. For many reasons. But I’m specifically sharing her interview on my blog because, as a young woman in my first legitimate job in media, I found myself moved by some of her quotes. In the interview, she makes some shrewd observations about the truth of being a woman in a position of power in a man’s business. She also talks about rejection, pay disparity, and, of course, that infamous Politico story. But of all the things she said, nothing struck me more than this:

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Why Young Journalists Need to Read Jessica Hopper’s Q&A with Jim DeRogatis On R. Kelly

Image via The Village Voice

Image via The Village Voice

I was born in 1990, so the first time I heard of R. Kelly, I was very young. It was his uplifting Space Jam anthem “I Believe I Can Fly.” I remember later discovering he had disgustingly married Aaliyah, one of my childhood idols, and I remember the vague allegations of pedophilia against him, and I, of course, remember the peeing incident.

What I don’t remember about R. Kelly are the specifics of absolutely anything related to his predatory behavior, his blatant and grotesque sexual abuse of young women in his hometown of Chicago. Until now. Recently, the excellent Chicago-based music journalist Jessica Hopper paired up with the equally excellent Chicago music critic and reporter Jim DeRogatis to discuss at-length the 15 years of work he spent exposing R. Kelly for his paper the Chicago Sun-Times. That Q&A was published yesterday in the Village Voice and it’s one of the most important pieces of music journalism of 2013.

But beyond being a piece that completely dismantles your understanding of R. Kelly’s “monster,” it’s a unique and free lesson for young journalists that teaches the fundamentals of our profession and how this profession let down dozens of young girls in failing to correctly report on R. Kelly and is continuing the tradition to this day. I want to point out a particular passage from the Q&A:

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