The list of men accused of sexually harassing or abusing their female employees and colleagues is seemingly endless: Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Jann Wenner, Roger Ailes. The news came to light this last fall when scores of women came forward with their personal stories.
In November 2017, SPJ President Rebecca Baker called on chapters to sponsor events tackling abuse in the newsroom. SPJ Florida took the call seriously and began working with organizations such as Press Forward, a group founded by women who were abused in their newsrooms who are working to change the newsroom culture as well as the press partner for TIME’S UP.
“This problem is not old, nor will it go away if we don’t talk about it and be part of the movement for change,” said SPJ Florida president Christiana Lilly. “We are so proud to have such a powerful panel of women who can speak to the many puzzle pieces that make up sexual harassment and abuse in the newsroom.”
Through conversations with Press Forward, the chapter was also introduced to the Purple Campaign. The Florida Pro chapter is proud to welcome SPJ’s new executive director, Alison Bethel McKenzie, to the organization by being a part of the panel.
The webinar takes place April 24 at 7 p.m. EST
Panelists will discuss and address the following topics:
- What are the unique challenges that female journalists face in the newsroom and what do they need to protect themselves
- Identifying what is sexual harassment or abuse
- What steps to take should one feel they have been mistreated or if a colleague is being mistreated
- What to do if you are a newsroom leader or manager after #MeToo
- What you can do to change the newsroom culture into one where there is safety and journalists are empowered to do their best work
“While we host lots of informative events in person, a panel like this goes beyond the Sunshine State,” Lilly said. “It was imperative that we host it online so that people will not be restricted by location. We’re urging journalists and supporters of journalism to join the webinar to be part of the solution.”
Alison Bethel McKenzie
Alison Bethel McKenzie is executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists and has more than 30 years of experience as an award-winning reporter, bureau chief, senior editor and media trainer—she has worked at The Boston Globe, the Detroit News, Legal Times, the Nassau Guardian, The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Times, Poughkeepsie Journal and the now-defunct State Times in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a co-founder and former vice president of the board of directors for Caribbean Media Institute and acts as an advisor/consultant for the antillean.org news website in Barbados. She is a former board member of Al Jazeera America and is a member and former board member of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Bethel McKenzie is a native of Miami, Florida.
Ally Coll Steele
Ally Coll Steele is an attorney and the president and co-founder of the Purple Campaign, a nonprofit organization that addresses workplace sexual harassment. Before launching the Purple Campaign earlier this year, Steele was litigator in private practice in Washington D.C., where she also worked for several years in electoral politics and on Capitol Hill as a staffer in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Most recently, she joined Hillary Clinton’s legal department in headquarters as the Deputy National Voter Protection Director, overseeing Election Day operations in the battleground states and the campaign’s volunteer lawyer program. Steele received her law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served on the Board of the Harvard Women’s Law Association and the American Constitution Society, and as the Executive Policy Editor of the Harvard Law and Policy Review.
Cary Hughes Weekes
Cary Hughes Weekes is a co-founder of Press Forward, a newly launched initiative to stop sexual harassment and assault in newsrooms, create safe and healthy workplaces for women and men, and ensure the integrity of the American press. She began her career in journalism while attending Duke University, first as an intern at the ABC affiliate in Durham and as a summer intern for Good Morning America. Upon graduation, she moved to New York City and worked in the news media for Entertainment Weekly, HBO’s On the Record with Bob Costas, CNN’s American Morning, and FoxNews’s Dayside with Linda Vester. She connected with the other women of Press Forward in the fall of 2017 during the onslaught of misconduct revelations of some of the media industry’s most powerful men.
Suzette Speaks is a Miami-based television host, practicing attorney, emcee and speaker. She is the founder of the Fort Lauderdale Law Group, PLLC and for the past seven years, Speaks has worked as a talk show host for Trinity Broadcast Network. In July 2015, she joined the Caribbean National Weekly as their principal digital newscaster, garnering thousands of weekly viewers during her tenure. In 2016, she was a monthly radio contributor for WHQT HOT 105FM’s Sunday night talk show HOT Talk with Jill Tracey. In 2017 she made appearances on Investigation Discovery’s “6 Degrees of Murder” and the syndicated radio program The Michael Baisden Show. Currently, Speaks hosts “Good Morning, Diaspora!” on Caribbean Village TV and recently completed her first ebook. She is a board member of the South Florida Black Journalists Association after serving a two-year term as president of the organization.