Since 1911, the United States has celebrated Women’s History Month – an annual month declared worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. This year the Salt Lake Chamber is honoring the extraordinary accomplishments, determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come.
Throughout the month of March, the Salt Lake Chamber will highlight women making a difference in Utah business and the local community.
The second feature of the month is: Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Editor, The Salt Lake Tribune.
Below is the transcript from the video, please note slight edits have been made.
Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Editor, The Salt Lake Tribune.
What role do you play within your organization?
I make sure the reporters have the equipment that they need. and really just run the whole operation.
What is your favorite part about working there?
You know, the newsroom is a completely unique microcosm, it is so much fun. The environment changes every day, well, every hour because the news is always changing. So, it’s a really dynamic environment and great place to be around people who are invested in the mission in making sure our community has the information they need and information they can trust.
What pivotal moment in your career led you to where you are today?
It probably goes way back to before I was a journalist. I took a long circuitous route. I studied english as an undergraduate and decided I wasn’t sure about teaching and sort of went on a path of discovery. I took chemistry because I thought I was going to be a doctor, and that didn’t work out, and I took bioethics, anyway, I landed in a newswriting class and I fell in love with it. And after that, I went to my neighborhood newspaper in the Bay Area and said “I want to be a reporter” and so they hired me to do 3 stories on spec and after that I had job which set me on this journalism path, it’s been a lot of fun.
What has been your most rewarding professional experience?
It’s probably landing that interview that I’ve been working for weeks to get. People are nervous about talking to journalists, and understandably so, because it’s outside of their comfort zone, it’s outside of their control. But I think that once I’ve established trust with somebody, and they are willing to take a gamble and make sure that I’m going to be fair with them, that’s really rewarding. That’s sort of a personal triumph.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Wow. I’ve been on the job for 6 months so I have a lot of ambitions over the next 5 years. I guess my overriding goal is to make sure The Salt Lake Tribune is financially sustainable. We have a terrific new owner and he’s given us some stability, but I don’t want to have to rely on him only, I want our product to pay for itself. So, I need to communicate that to the community and it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a real steep climb when people have been getting free content online for years and years to all of the sudden say, “you need to pay for this content because it’s worth something.” So that’s my big goal. It’s a big one.
In what ways are you involved with your local community?
As a journalist, you’re sort of sequestered from volunteer or community engagement in a traditional sense. I can’t serve on boards, ethically. But I would say that I’m on my kids PTA and I do things at the grassroots level. As a journalist, my public service is the job that we do. To make sure that all the information that we give to the community is trustworthy. So I do a lot of public speaking, just selling that message, but it’s not activism on a traditional sense or serving on boards.
Why does women’s history month matter?
It’s an opportunity for people to see women in a completely different light. If you think back to grade school, who was the first woman that you learned about in history? It was probably Betsy Ross, right? We think there aren’t that many when it comes to our nation’s founders. Ironically, there were a lot of women who made a huge impact on the founding of the nation, but we don’t really hear their stories. So I think Women’s History month is important because it does give that highlight. On the flip side, I really hate the idea that we have to a designated month to focus on women. Women’s contributions span the spectrum–in medicine, science, politics, policy-making, banking and industry–you name it, there are women there at the forefront. It’s kind of sad that we have to have this month, because we don’t make a conscious effort to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the year, it’s sort of segregated into this month. I wish it weren’t that way, but so it is.
What are the biggest challenges women face in the world today?
We talk a lot about balance. Women have been traditionally caretakers at the beginning of life as well as the end of life, and I think employers are much more in tune to those unique roles that women play not only in families, but in communities generally. So we’ve made a lot of progress there. I do think that in the broader world, women are victimized a lot more, they do not have the opportunities that men do. So in the broadest sense, I think there’s still a lot of work to do and we can do that through laws and activism and, of course, good information.
What motivates you?
I have two teenage boys and every morning I’m like, “do your best” go out there and do your best, use your God-given talents whatever they happen to be and make a difference in the world. And that’s really my personal mantra and I think it could be advice for everyone to use. Put your best foot forward and do your best.
Who is your role model?
I have so many. Well, family of course. My grandmother was amazing and really set me on a path of thinking outside the box and encouraging me, and taught me the power of education. My professional role model is Nelly Bly. You’ve probably never heard of her, but she’s a journalist from the early 20th century who actually took a trip around the world. She was an inventor, she was a novelist, she was extremely creative and died far too young, so when I think of her, I think that if she could do that 150 years ago, I can do whatever I need to do today.
What tip or pearl of wisdom would you share with other female professionals?
Figure out exactly what your unique skills are and maximize those. I think it’s really important, especially for women in the workplace, to find a mentor. Somebody they can talk to, be honest with, exchange ideas, or just a sounding board. That’s really important. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman, but it does help if you can find somebody professionally that you can look up to and just say, “hey I want to be the best that I can”. Most people I’ve encountered across the board are so willing to help, sometimes you just have to ask.
About Jennifer Napier-Pearce
Jennifer joined The Salt Lake Tribune in January 2013, starting as a business writer and eventually becoming host of a daily online video program, Trib Talk, and the weekly radio news show Behind the Headlines before being named editor in August 2016. Prior to coming to The Tribune, Jennifer was news director, anchor, host and reporter for both KUER 90.1 FM and KCPW 88.3/105.3 FM, receiving numerous top awards from the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Utah Broadcasters Association and the national Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI). She regularly moderates community events and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a master’s degree from Stanford University.