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Call for Proposals

Women, Action & the Media:
A Conference for Activists, Journalists & Everyone
This year’s theme: Inside/Outside
MIT’s Stata Center, Cambridge, MA | March 27 – March 29, 2009
Presented by the Center for New Words (

If you care about amplifying progressive women’s voices in the media, WAM! is for
you, whether you’re a media producer or a PR strategist, a journalist, an activist, an
academic, a community organizer, a feminist, a funder or philanthropist, a “citizen”
media watchdog, a media policy advocate, an alternative-network-builder, a blogger,
writer, teacher, artist, technology trainer, cartoonist, deejay, or anything else!

The goal of WAM! is to bring together everyone who has a stake in achieving
gender justice in media, in order to share facts and ideas, develop skills, build
collaborations, bridge differences and create action plans. We’re bringing together
more than 600 participants to exchange observations, ideas, experiences, opinions, and
tools for change—and plan together for action.
WAM! is one of those rare spaces where you are encouraged to bring your professional and
activist selves together. Personally you will develop important relationships at WAM! and have
opportunities to upgrade your technology, storytelling, business and/or organizing skills. You will
also have time to reflect on the impact of our collective efforts as women in the media and discuss
how we can continue making progress. As WAM! moves forward, our efforts to integrate media
and movements will evolve alongside it.
--Irene Villaseñor, American Documentary, Inc. | P.O.V.

What questions, issues, and concerns do you want to hear debated? What thinking,
strategizing, planning or skill-sharing work should happen at WAM! as a step forward in
building the movement? What should we know, what should we be doing, and what
should we be preparing for?

WAM! has become for me an indispensable opportunity to meet talented writers and editors and
trade strategies about how to challenge sexism in what remains a male-dominated field. Most
importantly, because of WAM!'s frank feminist orientation and open commitment to advancing
social justice, its panels and conversations provoke me to rethink the kinds of stories I assign.
--Esther Kaplan, Investigative Editor, The Nation Institute

We invite you to submit a proposal for a workshop, panel, strategy meeting, digital
multimedia presentation, film, performance or other conference offering. We especially
encourage proposals from women of color, women under 25 and over 60, low-
income women, professionals/producers working in broadcast and entertainment
media, and students.
Please send us your session proposals. We encourage you to be creative not only with
your proposed topic and content, but in your means of presentation—we’re seeking
interactive, provocative, dialogue-rich sessions that might as easily involve multimedia,
collaborative projects, skills training or live performance as a panel or standard speaker.

I have gotten a great deal of contacts at WAM! for both professional and personal purposes. I’ve
met wonderful women journalists that I wouldn’t normally have access to. CNW attracts women
from all different backgrounds, no matter what race, color, sexual orientation, disability or
class. It’s great to be around such terrific, smart women.
--Talia Whyte, freelance journalist


o Brownfemipower: blogger at La Chola and a media justice activist
o Farai Chideya: multimedia journalist, host of NPR’s News & Notes
o Carla DeSantis: advocate for Women in Music, director of the ROCKRGRL
Music Conference and founder of ROCKRGRL Magazine
o Ann Friedman: deputy editor, The American Prospect, and editor of
o Amy Goodman: host of DemocracyNow!
o Ellen Goodman: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
o E.J. Graff: Senior Researcher directing the Gender & Justice Project at Brandeis
University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism
o Daisy Hernandez: managing editor of ColorLines magazine
o Maria Hinojosa: host of NPR’s Latino USA
o Lisa Jervis: co-founder, publisher, of Bitch Magazine
o Esther Kaplan: investigative editor with The Nation Institute, author of With God
on Their Side
o Julianne Malveaux: president of Bennett College for Women, economist, and
o Katha Pollitt: author, commentator and columnist for The Nation
o Sofia Quintero aka Black Artemis: co-founder of Sister Outsider Entertainment &
Chica Luna Productions
o Audacia Ray, editor of $pread Magazine and author of Naked on the Internet
o Caryl Rivers: journalism professor at Boston University; author
o Loretta Ross: founder of SisterSong; co-director, 2004 March for Women’s Lives
o Thenmozhi Soundarajan: executive director of Third World Majority
o Helen Thomas: First Lady of the Press and former White House Bureau Chief
o Rebecca Traister: Salon journalist
o Jessica Valenti: editor,
o Haifa Zangana: chair of Iraqi Patriots in Media and Culture (IPMC), novelist,
columnist and former prisoner of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.
(And many more! For the complete list of last year’s presenters, visit WAM!

For the first time this year, we’ll be exploring a theme throughout the Conference:

We all belong inside some communities or networks and are new to or feel excluded or
alienated from others. The tension that exists between insiders and outsiders to any given
movement, identity, industry or ideology can be destructive, but it can also be harnessed
toward mutually beneficial change.

We encourage you to consider the dynamics of insiders and outsiders when preparing
your proposals. Perhaps you’d like to present an insider’s perspective to a group of
outsiders, or vice versa. Perhaps you’d like to create space for self-identified insiders or
outsiders to talk privately to each other, or you’d like to organize a group of outsiders
who want to gain insider access or tear down a dividing wall altogether. Perhaps you’d
like to build connections between insiders and outsiders in a particular area, discuss how
the inside/outside dynamic impacts your subject matter, or challenge the entire construct
of inside/outside. The possibilities are endless.

NOTE: If you have a session to propose that doesn’t address the theme, don’t hesitate to
send it on – not every session needs to engage with this theme.


We’re also introducing program tracks this year. Below you’ll find our tentative list, plus
examples of sessions from recent years which would fit each track well. Use these as
guidelines to help you shape your proposal, but don’t be limited by them! We may add or
change tracks depending on the proposals we receive.

Building Bridges to Change

past examples include:
• Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?: Effective Messaging for Reaching Young
Women of Color
• From abortion rights to same-sex marriage: Building multimedia bridges across
• In Tandem: An Overdue Discussion about the Freelance-Editor Relationship
• Radical Words: Intersections Between Activism and Publishing

Gender & Pop Culture

past examples include:
• Dying for Your Entertainment: Gender Bias in News Coverage of Britney, Lindsay,
Courtney and Owen
• Stereotyping and Typecasting in Reality Television
• Beyond Croft and Cooking Mama: Expanding the Discussion of Sexism in Gaming
• Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip Hop Fiction to Incite Feminist Action
How to Cover the Issues
past examples include:
• Women and Religion: Challenging Journalistic Convention
• Sex Workers and Media Representation
• Resisting Walls and Bars: Amplifying Voices From Death Row and the Prison
Industrial Complex
• Covering Poor and Low-Income Women in Corporate Media Era
• Immigration in the U.S.: The Women’s Rights Crisis Feminists Aren’t Talking About
Issues for Journalists
past examples include:
• Beating the Old Boys’ Club
• The Future of Investigative Journalism
• The Balance Myth: Why Journalism’s Ethos Distorts the News
• No Comment: Exploring the Women’s Byline Gap
• Growing Independent Media in a Time of Shrinking Resources
Media & Social Change
past examples include:
• By Any Media Necessary: Empowering Youth to Use Media to Make Change
• Transgender Activist Radio, Social Change, and the Continuing Gender Revolution
• More Than Shadows and Whispers: Hip Hop Feminists Battle Sexism, Harassment,
and Violence
• Having Our Say: Using Community Cable TV Access as a Force for Positive Social
• Good Media Needs Good Bones: Feminist Approaches to Media Policy and

Professional Development
past examples include:
• Building a Women’s Media Fund
• Life in the Toxic Triangle: Money, Time, & Isolation
• You Gotta Have a Plan: Three Women Founders Talk About the Nuts and Bolts of
Creating Sustainable Media
• Networking for Newbies
Skill Workshops
past examples include:
• How to Write a Book Proposal That Sells Without Selling Out
• FACT-UP: Fact Check, Research, and Thinking Critically like a Radical Librarian
• You in the Commentary Continuum: Crafting an Op-Ed
• Making Internet TV
• Big Coverage & Big Cash, How to Get National News Media Exposure and Turn it
into Big Funding
Technology & Activism
past examples include:
• Can Blogging Help End Racism?
• Represent!: The Web as a Site for Black Girls’ Resistance
• Feminist Blogs: Activism, Journalism or Masochism?
• Empowering Online Communities
• Do It Yourself New Media: Creating and Maintaining a Viable Internet Presence

Almost all sessions will be allotted 90 minutes. However, we will likely offer a small
number of day-long (4-6 hour) spots on the day of Friday, March 27. If you would like to
present a day-long session, and are available to present on 3/27 during the day, please
specify that in your proposal.


While this call is primarily seeking 90-minute sessions on relevant subject as described
above, we’re also seeking a limited number of films, live performances, and other
projects to be presented throughout the weekend of the Conference. Please use the
guidelines below to propose these as well.

Please submit a proposal (not more than 500 words) including:

 Presenters’ first and last names (please only propose presenters whose availability
to attend has been confirmed)
 Each presenter’s qualifications to present on this topic. Please provide information on
any past presentations, relevant experience, and/or biographical information. Please also
be sure to include any information which will help us ensure equitable representation of
speakers on the basis of race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, degree
of physical ability, and age. (Note: we will providing support and mentorship to novice
presenters – don’t let a lack of presenting experience stop you from proposing a session.)
 Goal of the session: What are the presenter/organizers goals for producing this session
and what do you hope will happen?
 Format of presentation, plus unique features, e.g., equipment needs
 What type of audience your presentation is geared toward. Please be specific as to
what you assume people attending your session will already know, what skills or
experience they should have, etc.
 What program track(s) might this proposal be appropriate for?
 Email address
 Mailing address
 Telephone number(s)
 Title of the presentation
Incomplete proposals may not be considered.
Length: 250 to 500 words

Preference will be given to sessions that:

 involve at least 50 percent women of color as presenters or session leaders
 involve low-income women as presenters or session leaders
 involve women under 25 and/or women over 60 as presenters or session leaders
 have a goal of fostering post-conference action or activism by the participants

Formats for presentations may include:

 multimedia/performance – e.g., video, guerrilla theater, etc.
 lecture (must include significant time for q&a)
 workshop (hands-on skill-building)
 strategic planning, collaboration or action/organizing meeting
 panel discussion with moderator (must include significant time for q&a)
 media action brunch (planning for post-conference action)
 combinations of these formats, or other formats entirely!

All sessions should run for 90 minutes.

(except day-long sessions and films/live performances as described above)

Timeline and Important Dates:

Proposal submission deadline: 10/10/2008
Notification of acceptance or rejection: 11/11/2008

Please feel free to call us with questions as you prepare your proposals: 617-876-5310.
Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by the steering committee. Please send your
submission to with the subject line WAM!2009
Session Proposal, or mail it to Center for New Words/7 Temple Street/Cambridge, MA
02139/Attn: WAM!2009 Session Proposals. You will receive a confirmation of our
receiving your submission within 3 working days.

Presenter Policies

 In order to keep conference registration fees at the lowest possible rate, we ask
presenters to volunteer your time, expertise, and services at the conference.

 In consideration of your service as a presenter, you (and up to three co-

presenters) will receive free registration to the entire conference.

 If you need assistance funding travel and accommodations, you’ll be invited

to request those funds once your proposal is accepted. While we regret that we
cannot guarantee that everyone who needs travel assistance will receive it, we are
making every effort to ensure that we can fund as many requests as possible.

 If you submit a proposal, you will become the “session contact.” Session
contacts are expected to serve as the communication link between the conference
organizing staff and the other presenters on your session. Session contacts must
provide complete contact information for each presenter and advise
conference staff of any changes in presenter line-up.

 The Center for New Words expects that all scheduled sessions will be presented
as described in your proposal and listed in the program book.

Thank you. We look forward to receiving your proposal.