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Mavens assemble voices in Indianapolis

A new publication for women, by women redefines local journalism

By Erica Irish


As a young woman majoring in journalism, I rarely feel out of place.

The students who pull all-nighters in Shirk Hall to make this paper possible, after all, are mainly women. I’m proud to say that I’m part of an editorial team that wholly consists of female leaders driven to improve The Franklin and elevate the many voices underpinning our campus.

And we’re not alone. Each year, according to an analysis by the Poynter Institute, a non- profit media research organization, around two-thirds of the students who graduate from journalism and mass communication schools identify as women.

But I didn’t consider the drastic differences between the gender roles in collegiate media and the real-world industry. The more I entered professional life — through internships and conventions— I came to understand how deeply traditional male perspectives continue to dominate the trajectory of local journalism.

A 2018 analysis by the Women’s Media Center revealed that women were the majority of newsroom staffs with 37% filling online-only publications and 14% traditional daily newspapers.

Although there are exceptions to these figures, the findings are telling.

While there are cases of women at the helm at organizations in Indianapolis and beyond, quality coverage of women remains slim. Only 24% of news subjects identified as women, according to a 2015 study by the Global Media Monitoring Project.

Now, local women are assembling their voices — and others’ — to change this reality.

In April, Amanda Kingsbury, long-time journalist and former Indianapolis

Star editor, met with two colleagues: Tech entrepreneur Crystal Grave and media chief Leslie Bailey. They met and resolved to create a local news platform for women, by women.

They named the venture Indy Maven, in honor of the women who influence the Circle City with their expertise and unparalleled perspectives on media.

In her new role as contributing editor for Indy Maven, Kingsbury said her goal is to expand representation in a way that doesn’t “pigeonhole” womanhood into strict definitions.

“You rarely find stories of women where they aren’t victimized in some way,” Kingsbury said. “Or, they are presented in a ‘stay-in-your-lane,’ traditional feminine role.”

For Kingsbury, there are many opportunities that exist to improve depictions of womanhood across publications. But it all starts with active listening and community.

“It starts with listening to what women have to say, what they value, what’s important to them,” Kingsbury said. “It seems like a very simple first step, but I think often that step is overlooked.”

Indy Maven is assembling an editorial board that will consist of women who identify with a range of races, occupations and interests as well as men who will be contributing authors to the publication.

Representation alone is powerful, but when representation is done well and in appreciation of the full spectrum of women — as Indy Maven proposes to do — it can be a force like no other.

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