CJA presents Women in Media event to full house

CJA invited three prominent women journalists to speak at its Women in Media event on April 30. From left: Melissa Sanchez (ProPublica Illinois), Ashley Hamer (curiosity.com) and Lolly Bowean (Chicago Tribune). Photo credit: Yilin Xu

The Chicago Journalists Association kicked off its 2019 calendar of events with a successful Women in Media networking event for Chicago’s journalism community on Tuesday, April 30.

The intimate evening at the South Loop’s M Lounge attracted 40 college students and young professionals, who came out to learn from three prominent women journalists: Lolly Bowean (Chicago Tribune), Melissa Sanchez (ProPublica Illinois) and Ashley Hamer (curiosity.com). 

“It was so heartwarming to see so many students and young professionals invested in the panelists’ conversation,” said CJA executive board director Jess Raines, who spearheaded the event. “Lolly, Melissa and Ashley provided such versatile tips based on their wide range of experience.” 

During the hour-long discussion, the skilled panelists discussed fellow women journalists they admire, emerging trends and advice on how to find good mentors. Hamer likened the mentor experience to dating.

“You start small, look into their work. But you don’t want to get married right away,” she said.

The crowd listens intently as the panelists share advice. Photo credit: Yilin Xu

When asked about the most adventurous thing they have done in their careers, Bowean said she once rode on the back of a garbage truck for a story. She stressed the importance of interrogating one’s passions and encouraged the crowd to only pursue journalism if they absolutely love it.

“You must be willing to go to places you’ve never heard of,” Sanchez added. She described it as the most rewarding thing she has ever done.

Audience questions and networking followed the panel discussion. The group even received a surprise visit from former Illinois governor, Pat Quinn, who stopped in to listen. View the full photo gallery here.

CJA is one of Chicago’s oldest journalism organizations and a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. Membership is free for aspiring, current and retired journalists of Chicago’s editorial departments. To become a member, send a CV/bio to chicagocja@gmail.com.