Moving past “I’m Terrible”

by Katy Mersmann 0 Comments

Last night I listened to Jessica Abel’s talk, hosted by ONA Mizzou, about storytelling and the creative process.

First of all, let me say that she was fabulous. Her talk was interesting, funny and honest about the people she’s met and worked with, and more generally about the creative process. Towards the beginning of her talk, she explained the process of learning how to plot out the stories she wrote.

She talked about how challenging it was, and is, to create things, how every time she tries to work out what she’s doing, she goes through roughly the same emotional stages (which were by codified by Kazu Kibuishi).

Abel talked about that fourth step for quite a while. She called it the I’m terrible step, where you start to question your skills, your smarts, whether you have any idea what you’re doing. Her description of it resonated with me.

It’s not just imposter syndrome.

It’s imposter syndrome on steroids. 

What am I even doing with my life?: And other questions from NICAR young’uns

CAROne of my favorite sessions at NICAR is undoubtedly the young’uns session: a place for students and young professionals to ask candid questions to journalists who have been in the field a little longer.

How do I make myself stand apart from the other 500 applicants? How do I negotiate a salary? Does an internship count as previous experience? What if I’ve only worked for student media? WHY IS FINDING A JOB SO HARD? WHAT IS THE POINT OF LIFE? You know, common questions we’ve all had at one time or another during our journey into adulthood.

Annoucing Our New Mentoring Program

mentor banner

So imagine this:
You’re a newly minted Mizzou J-school grad.
You walk into your first real newsroom gig. You walk into your first real advertising agency. You walk into a meeting with your first real client. It’s perfect.
You can smell the fresh new paper smell of the reporter’s notebooks stashed in your work bag. You can picture the creative, witty tweets you’re about to write. You can visualize your first Avid editing window on a big-screen Mac.
You’re a big kid in the media today and basically everything is great. You walk in the door, down the hallway, the cubicles full of other reporters and editors, copywriters and social media experts, the anchors and the photogs. But with each desk you walk by, you notice something more and more. You’re one of three women on the entire staff.


That may not come as quite a shock. Sure, it’s a small-market newspaper, what did you expect? Maybe it’s not being sure what constitutes “business casual” in your field, maybe it’s a few off-hand sexist remarks from co-workers or maybe it’s that when you walk into a room to start salary negotiations, all your bosses are male. Whatever it is, wouldn’t it be better if you had someone to talk to about it?

We here at Mizzou Women in Media have heard countless stories that follow that storyline. And we’d like for that to change.

One of the key goals Mizzou WIM officers had from the start was that we wanted to be more than just guest speakers and panels. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some incredible people come to campus and share stories and advice. But we’d also like to go a step further.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch our mentoring program this week. 

The goal is simple: we want to build a support system that empowers women in the field. With a mentoring program, we can generate new ideas, provide guidance, and talk about everything that impacts women in media. When MU students enter the workforce, we want them to know that even though their newsroom or office may only have a handful of women, they are not alone.

The mentor program has multiple tiers. For upper-level mentoring, junior, senior and graduate students will be paired with an industry professional. We hope industry professionals can provide guidance to students just about to enter the workforce and all the trials and tribulations that come with that.

For lower-level mentoring, freshman and sophomore students will be paired with junior and senior students. The idea is for upperclassmen to be positive and encouraging role models for underclassmen as they navigate choosing an emphasis area and the first grueling J-school assignments.

We also hope that mentors and mentees can learn from each other and engage in some thought-provoking conversation.

Are you interested in becoming a mentor or mentee? Great! Here are the few things you need to know:

Time commitment: All we ask is that mentors/mentees touch-base at least once a month to ask questions, get to know each other, etc. If a pair wants to communicate more regularly, that’s totally great too! Mizzou WIM will also occasionally check-in to see that everything is going well and provide any guidance in the mentorship experience.

Can you be a mentor AND a mentee? Absolutely! If you’re a junior or senior student, you can be a mentor for an underclassman student and also be a mentee to an industry professional. In fact, we’re counting on it.

Do you need mentoring experience? Nope! All are welcome.

If you’d like to sign up, please fill out mentor and/or mentee application forms by clicking the links below.

Mentee: Underclassmen Form (if you’re freshman/sophomore student and would like an upperclassmen mentor)

Mentee: Upperclassmen/Graduate Students Form (if you’re an upperclassmen/graduate student and want an industry professional mentor)


Mentor: Upperclassmen Form (if you’re an upperclassman student and want to mentor an underclassman student)

Mentor: Industry Professionals Form (if you’re an industry professional and you want to mentor an upperclassman/graduate student)

“Can I Say Sexism?”: Leading Women in Media on the State of Things

Photo by Beatriz Costa-Lima

Photo by Beatriz Costa-Lima

Monday was a whirlwind day at Mizzou — the Missouri Honor Medals, when the J-school recognizes people and organizations for distinguished service to journalism.

This year, we asked three of the medalists to join us for a panel about women in the media.

Led by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jacqui Banaszynski, the panel featured freelance reporter and author Barbara Ehrenreich, editor-in-chief of CNN Digital Meredith Artley and long-time New York Times copy editor Merrill Perlman.