Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WAM Recap, Or I Love Feminists, Journalism, And Structurally Unsound Convention Centers

Consider thyself forewarned, this is a ridiculously long post.

As I already mentioned, I spent this past weekend at the Women, Action, and the Media (WAM) conference in Boston. It was awesome. I promised a recap, so here it is.

Friday afternoon I arrived on a smelly bus from Port Authority (OK, it really wasn't that smelly, but you know me, I love my hyperbolic adjectives). It was a pretty uneventful trip, actually, and I got to add Connecticut to my list of states I've driven through but never actually visited. Woot. When I got to Boston, I checked into the hostel (not hotel, hostel, I'm cheap like that), stashed my bag (in a locker, so you know it must be a classy place), and maneuvered my way to Cambridge to check out the Stata Center at MIT. I got all checked in and had some time to kill before I had to meet up with the Duck Tour group (yeah, that's right, Duck Tour...apparently it's a WW2 vehicle and "Duck" represents some kind of Army-style acronym...crazy military and its acronyms) so I sat like a nerd and read through all of my WAM material and picked out the sessions I wanted to attend. I'm super cool like that.

I had signed up for a WAM buddy (meaning they pair you with someone so you don't have to attend everything alone), but she wasn't taking the tour, so I figured we'd meet later. But I ran into her in the bathroom before the tour. So random. She is really cool and we got along incredibly well. Hooray for new friends.

The tour was cool. Ducks travel on both land and water, which is fun. It was freezing though. On the tour I saw the first church in Boston to perform same-sex marriages. Among other sites.

Friday night was the keynote speech by none other than the fantastic Helen Thomas, who has been reporting on Washington through eight Presidents and is one of the few reporters today with the stones to ask really tough questions. In her introduction, Feministing's Ann Friedman referred to Thomas as "the patron saint of not shutting up" for her determination to ask the tough, important questions no one wants to be asked and not listening when told to be quiet or act like a lady.

By the way, I met her (Thomas I mean, not Friedman) and had a book signed. Squee.

That was basically it for Friday. There was a screening of the film Itty Bitty Titty Committee that I had planned to go to, but there was a huge line to meet Helen Thomas and she took priority. I can rent the movie, I can't rent the patron saint of not shutting up.

Saturday morning began the concurrent sessions. The first one I attended was "Networking for Newbies," which was interesting but not quite as informative as I had hoped. We talked about networking but I had hoped for more practice of skills.

We broke for lunch after session A, and I attended a lunch caucus on starting a feminist writing group. Apparently we're going to start a virtual one for the people who attended the caucus, since everyone was scattered all over the country. Hopefully that will work out and be worthwhile.

Still reading? Kudos.

The second session I went to was "Blogging 101" which was really informative and taught me some skills I have already applied here and some I plan to ASAP. Par example, I need to register this site with Technorati.

For the third session, I attended one about investigative journalism. I thought it was the most sensible option and would have the most relevance and aid to my impending career. To be honest, I don't feel like I actually learned anything from it. One of the panelists was friends with Daniel Pearl and is now teaching a multi-semester class at Georgetown dedicated to researching his murder. That was the most interesting part of the session. Which is unfortunate, because I passed on two other sessions at the same time that sounded a lot more fun to go to this one. Plus, this subject could have potentially been really helpful and informative. Now I know not to listen to my sensible side.

After that we broke for dinner then returned for a fun WAM party. We drank WAM-tinis and danced all night (or...until 11:00 when the DJ left). It was a great way to blow off steam and have a feminist-y good time. As I like to call it, "feminists gone wild." Most of the people there would probably hate me for calling it that.

Sunday morning brought more sessions. I first attended one about writing Op-Eds, which was really informative and I hope to put it to use. The people in charge have an organization dedicated to getting women published on Op-Ed pages across the country. I intend to use them ASAP.

The second session of the day (and last of the conference...sniff...) that I attended was about women and video games. I had intended to be sensible again and attend one about communicating with editors, but after the investigative journalism disappointment, I told my sensible side to shut up and went for funsies instead. I am so glad I did. This one was by far my favorite session. I learned a lot, including a new way to look at games and gaming culture, plus the session was just enjoyable and entertaining. It really played to my inner geek.

After the sessions were over there was a farewell lunch and everyone left. I had a few hours to kill before my bus back to New York (on which I had a pair of seats to myself - rock on!) so I checked out Newbury St. It was only a few blocks from the hostel and right around the corner from the subway station I needed.

Wow, did you really make it to the end?

By the way, Boston's trains are weird. They name each line by color and THEN letter. When I first looked at the map I was like "there's more than one B train, WTF is happening here" before I realized the crazy Bostonians had their own bizarre setup going on. When will other cities learn that they should emulate New York because it's clearly better than they are? haha.


Roy said...

Hooray! I'm so glad you enjoyed the session. It was a *ton* of fun to present (even if I was ridiculously nervous going in). I was sad that we didn't get a chance to present all of our information or the slides that Naomi had put together, or get a chance to demo any of the games we brought, but I was really glad that people seemed so interested and engaged. I can't believe we went a half hour over our allotted time!

Which is to say, thanks for coming!

reggiez89 said...

omg i feel so famous right now!
i heart meeting ppl by the bathroom haha:-p