Best of: How is one woman elevating minority voices to be equal participants in American democracy?

December 27, 2022

In this episode of Here to Help, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams speaks to American journalist and news executive Emily Ramshaw — the co-founder and CEO of The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy in the U.S.

Ramshaw, who also serves on the Pulitzer Prize board, is on a mission with The 19th to staff a diverse, nonprofit and nonpartisan newsroom to cover gender, politics and policy issues often overlooked by the still white male-dominated news landscape. In this interview, Ramshaw shares her views on the future of news, as well as equity and inclusion in journalism.

You can also check out The 19th’s first major interviews with Meghan Markle and Kamala Harris.

- Hello everyone. I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed and welcome to the next installment of Here to Help. Today is December 6th. We're on day 643 of Global Work From Home. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us up at night and what powers that mission is our people and Here to Help is a look at how people's experiences and stories inspire them to want to help others. Now, today on Here to Help, we have a very special guest. Emily Ramshaw is an American journalist and news executive. She is co-founder and CEO of The 19th, an independent nonprofit newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy in the U.S. The 19th's mission is to elevate the voices of women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and to arm them with the information, resources and community they need to be equal participants in American democracy. The 19th gives all of its journalism away for free to readers and to every other news organization in America and among her many accolades, Emily was named to Fortune Magazine's 40 under 40 list in 2020 and she serves as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Emily thank you so much for joining me today.

- It is my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

- Well, let's start where we always start these conversations by asking how are you doing today?

- I'm awesome, I got to have a relatively normal head into the holidays weekend where we are a multi-holiday household in our home here and so we finished up Hanukkah last night and as you can see, we finally got the Christmas tree up in the background. So it felt like maybe we were heading into sort of a more normal holiday season this year. So I'm doing great. How about you, how are you?

- I am doing very well. We actually laid low this weekend. My wife and I both got our boosters on Friday and so we took it easy, but we're feeling great today. So thanks for asking. Well, so as I mentioned at the outset, you're the co-founder and CEO of The 19th. For those who are listening in who don't know, can you explain what The 19th is all about?

- Yeah, so the vision for The 19th really is to elevate the voices of people who have been marginalized in American media for far too long. So if you look at the media landscape, the 80% of politics and policy editors are male. Almost all of them are white men. That tracks for politics and policy reporters as well and so the vision for us as The 19th was could we bring a more inclusive lens to the storytelling? Could we bring a more inclusive audience to the table? Could we really try to sort of rewrite the national narrative so that it's centered women, so that it's centered the LGBTQ community. So it centers people who aren't used to seeing themselves on the front page or leading the homepage. So that's really sort of the vision behind The 19th. We've only been doing this for about a year and a half, so we are a pandemic baby for sure and I'm excited to talk about that a little bit more, but it's been a pretty wild ride.

- Great, so yeah, we're going to dive into a bunch of different areas of this. One thing that I'd love to talk about is really just the inspiration to launch right now and a good friend of mine likes to say before speaking, she likes to ask herself these three questions. Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now? So what was the particular moment that made you feel that after a long and very successful career and maybe not legacy, but a little more traditional media, why launch a nonprofit national newsroom focused specifically on women and marginalized voices?

- Yeah, sure, I mean, the honest answer is it started in 2016. I had been in a more sort of traditional media space. So I was the Editor in Chief of The Texas Tribune, but I was on maternity leave with a baby girl when Hillary Clinton was running against Donald Trump and I was absorbing all the headlines around is Hillary Clinton electable, is she likable? All of these headlines to me that seemed so fundamentally rooted in sexism. We weren't asking questions about likability or didn't seem to matter whether Donald Trump was likable or not and so that trope was frustrating to me and it was really hard obviously to be on maternity leave at a time when it felt like there's sort of been a referendum on women in this country, right? As a woman to wake up on election day, the morning after election day in 2016, and think like what just happened here? Was a pretty big moment for me and I thought in that moment what if we had had a national newsroom of record that centered women's experiences? What if we weren't asking questions about electability or likeability, we were asking questions about leadership or assuming that women were electable because if you elect women, they're electable. And so I had this vision in that moment, but then the reality was I was trying to keep a small human alive in conjunction with my husband and it wasn't the right moment for me to think about doing something else and so I just sort of pushed that idea out of my head thinking someone else will do this. It's such an obvious idea. And then four years later, we had more women on the 2020 stage than ever before. If you remember looking at those debate stages, we had more women of color and queer people on the 2020 stage than we'd ever had before and yet the conversations were still around electability and likability. They were also around does she want it too much? Is she too ambitious? The sort of Stacey Abrams effect. Those were headlines to me that seems not just sexist, but also racist and in that moment, I thought nobody has done this in the last four years. I'm not sure I'm the right person to do this, but somebody needs to do it and that was the moment when I think I first sort of conceived of The 19th in partnership with a couple of my really close colleagues and decided fear or not, we had to make the leap toward trying to rewrite this national narrative.

- So launching any new venture is a terrifying leap into the unknown. A venture like this which is fundamentally different in so many ways also in a time when people are questioning what the viability of a media might be and then just to lay out the timeline for those folks that don't know you, you announced your leaving job in December. You officially founded The 19th in January of 2020. You launched in August. So between making this leap and even launching, then the world was hit by a global pandemic. Can you talk through how you navigated that experience?

- Yes, it was hell. I mean, I think the long and short is look like I'm actually a relatively risk averse person. As you just heard, it took me basically four years to get up the nerve to even consider doing this and I think some of that comes down to gender, honestly. Like there were questions for me about did I have vision? Was I a visionary? Was I a CEO, could I raise money? I was really great at being the number two and I thought maybe that was the safe place for me to stay. But as I told you a couple of minutes ago, it just felt so intense and it felt like such a moment and I felt like I owed it to my daughter and I owed it to my mother and I owed it to all the women who didn't look like me or my mother or my daughter who were hit even harder by these factors and so yeah, so it was already scary. It was already scary to leave my job. It was already scary to say we needed to raise $2 million and then $5 million and then $10 million and then the pandemic hit and there were, I think my husband can attest to many sleepless nights and me sitting at our dining room table basically in my pajamas in tears wondering our fundraising. We had been raising something like $700,000 a month in those early couple of months and then the fundraising dried up to I think $37,000 a month on average between basically March and May of 2020. I thought we weren't going to be able to launch at all. I thought maybe we were going to have to push this whole venture back by a year. We had these big plans and then we all sort of looked at each other and locked arms and said women of color and the queer community are going to be those who are hardest hit by this pandemic. It was obvious from the early days. We have an obligation even more than before to do what we said we were going to do and so we started with first a newsletter that came out every other week and then it was every week and then suddenly it was every day and then we were publishing with the Washington Post. They were gracious to accept our journalism in the months leading up to our official launch and so we that for several months. One of our reporters, Erin Haynes, was the first reporter nationally to tell the story of Brianna Taylor. To tell it on a national stage and to do it through the lens of the family's concerns that black men who were killed by police were getting more media attention than black women who were killed by police and that story obviously put The 19th on the map during a really critical summer. and then suddenly it all just sort of snowballed. We had a big launch summit that we can talk about in a couple of minutes where we had extraordinary names and extraordinary turnout in many ways, the result of a pandemic and doing everything virtually kind of like this and suddenly it was a thing and people were reading and it was just this sort of train rushing down the tracks and so it has been an exceedingly difficult year for so many reasons. Two years in at this point, we still have not met our full staff in person, which is a really, really unusual way to run a startup, to run a company, but it felt like a moment where we had no choice but to take the risk.

- So there's so much to talk through on all of this. I want to actually go back to the very start a little bit in just the name of the organization, The 19th, and also when it's in print, it's stylized with an asterisk. So can you explain where the name comes from and what that stylized asterisk represents?

- Yep, so we knew from the beginning, we thought we wanted to be called The 19th in honor of the 19th Amendment which officially gave everyone the right to vote regardless of gender and the 19th Amendment, the 100th anniversary was actually at the same time as our launch, so August of 2020. So for obvious reasons, it felt both symbolic, it felt meaningful, it felt time appropriate. It felt like there would be a sort of fever pitch of activity around it. But when we really started talking as a group about the name The 19th, look, the reality is that the 19th Amendment extended the vote to white women and at the end of the day, white woman in many ways achieved the right to vote on the backs of black women who were working equally hard for suffrage. There was a lot of racism, a lot of misogyny in and around all of these conversations and the 19th Amendment didn't go far enough. It took another four decades well into the civil rights movement for women of color, for black women to get access to the franchise and so for us as an organization, we really believed The 19th was unfinished business and when we started batting around what that meant, one of our colleagues, Aaron Haynes, who's now an MSNBC contributor said, "Yeah, it's like the 19th Amendment but with an asterisk." And suddenly this light bulb went off for us that the asterisk was our logo. It was our mission. It's the connective tissue and the asterisk is really actually what we think about every time we're trying to decide what makes a 19th story. For us, it's what's the asterisk on this story? What's the gender or racial? What's the intersectional lens? And visually, when you think about intersections, that's what an asterisk is and so for us, The 19th is still unfinished business, the 19th Amendment. When you look at the access to the franchise around the country and what hurdles states have put into place for people trying to cast their ballots for formerly incarcerated people for transgender Americans who are facing barriers with their IDs at the polls. The asterisk makes the 19th Amendment a living breathing sort of emblem and motto for us. What the 19th Amendment was meant to do and what we know it can do. So that's a good question. I like talking about the asterisk.

- Thanks, so, and when we were meeting last week to talk through this, you talked a little bit about and I'd love to hear you share just your experience as a white woman and recognizing your own privilege through this experience and how that has shaped where you have gone both editorially and with the organization.

- Yeah, sure, I mean, so look like all of us, I'm a product of my upbringing. I'm a product of my privilege and of the color of my skin and I think when we started with The 19th, to be candid, I was thinking about women, politics and policy. I was thinking about those women who were on the stage. I wasn't thinking probably with remotely the kind of intersectional or even gender diverse lens that we think about The 19th now, but pretty quickly it became clear both over the course of the pandemic and as we continued to think about our own identity that certainly, women of color were hardest hit, certainly, people who are marginalized based on their gender, so queer people. Any time that the power of the patriarchy is in play, it's not just women who are affected and so for us as an organization, at about the sort of one year mark, we officially expanded our brand and our audience, our mission to say we're serving not just women, but specifically women of color and the queer community and that was an important shift for us as an organization, for us reputationally, for us for our audience, but to be perfectly candid, it was an important shift for me personally. I've been on a journey this last year. I think a lot of us who are in roles like ours have been and I'm not going to lie, there are days when I wonder am I the right person to be leading this kind of mission and this kind of change and at the end of the day, where I land on this, I'm not sure it's the right place, but speaking from a place of vulnerability, like where I've landed on this is if I am able to raise the kind of money for this non-profit organization that changes the game for the next generation of women and queer people in news, I will have served my purpose. I don't need to be the one out front. I don't need to be the one on TV. I don't need to be the one producing the journalism, but my role in this moment in history I think is to make the business model work, to make journalism, particularly journalism that serves women and queer people sustainable, financially viable and if I can do that and commit myself and my career to lifting folks up who haven't had their moment at the center of this industry, that's what I'm going to do. I might feel differently on this next week. I'm on a journey as I know we all are, but it's been an interesting, really interesting time to grapple with those kinds of issues.

- Thank you for sharing that. So one of the areas clearly where this shows up and from the founding of The 19th was you wanted to build a different kind of newsroom. You wanted to bring the diversity of perspective and experience into the newsroom. That is what you were describing you weren't seeing in other newsrooms around the world and that clearly was there not just to create opportunity, which is an important piece, but actually 'cause it's really going to shape the product itself and that's something that we talk about a lot at Indeed, that diversity for diversity's sake, there's a whole bunch of research that shows that it is just a good thing, but we know that the business that we're in of helping people get jobs where marginalized people find themselves marginalized, employment is one of the foundational pieces and so by changing the shape of our organization, we're actually looking at different problems and different solutions to this problem. So how did you set out to build a different kind of newsroom and really influenced the perspective that you bring into these stories?

- Yeah, sure, I mean, you and I have talked a little bit about this concept of objectivity, right? Like there was this idea in this industry that well, the news needs to remain completely objective and the reality is the question is like objective for who? Because when you look at the industry, again, over the course of time, over the course of history, the people who have been making decisions on what is news and what isn't news have largely been white men, right? They're the ones saying this is where the story plays on the front page or the homepage. They're the ones deciding who's quoted in those stories, whose voices are elevated, whose anecdotes lead those stories and at the end of the day, that's not objective either. Objective for who or whom? And so as we think about, when we thought about launching The 19th, for us there's this idea of like who owns their own story? Who gets to tell their stories? And I feel very strongly, our team feels very strongly that when your newsroom represents the community, when it accurately reflects the community, the stories that are elevated are the stories that need to be told, the stories, the news becomes more representative. But how do you make the news more representative? That was the question that we were grappling with and for us, one of the big answers to that is, I mean, first of all, intentionality, right? I mean, we have a newsroom that is more than 70% people of color, more than 15% queer colleagues on our team. Like we went into this with intention of course, but beyond that, how do you keep them? How do you retain them? How do you ensure that your newsroom continues to be what you set out to be? And for us that has really come down to both culture and also benefits. We know historically speaking the when women and other marginalized folks have the support systems they need, they stay in the industry longer. They advanced to the highest levels of their field. So for us, that means things like six months of fully paid family leave for new parents. It means four months of caregiving leave if you need to take care of an elderly relative or a sick child. The sandwich generation trope is real and it's hits women hardest of all candidly. We have a fully remote workforce where we say work wherever you have the support systems you need, wherever you have the childcare and elder care setup you need. We cover 100% percent of our employees healthcare premiums. For us, the vision is if we can provide the kind of security and comfort to allow you to navigate those hardest years of your career which in many ways, coincide with the hardest years of your child-rearing or your elderly parents, that we will be rewarded by keeping those folks in the business far longer and then when they're in their 50s, when they're in their 60s, when they're at the peak of their career, they get to be running these organizations because they were able to withstand that period in time. So for us, it's a combination, right? It's culture, it's how do we fight burnout? It's how do we tell people that their job isn't the most important thing and that we know there'll be more valuable to their jobs if their mental health is great and they are supported at home? I want to get away from thinking of news the way we have traditionally which is your butt in the editing chair basically for 12 hours a day or this breathless competitive and needlessly competitive field. We can do better and if we do better, we're going to keep women, women of color and the LGBTQ community in this business for longer.

- So one of the things that shows up when conversations like this happen around being able to offer incredibly generous and robust benefits is number one, that's okay. You can do that if you're a company like Indeed with thousands of employees all over the world, but this is a startup with maybe dozens of employees and you're doing it in the middle of a pandemic under tight financial pressure. So how was it to be able to announce things like a six month leave policy when the company was not even six months old? And to be able to stick to that, obviously you think it's important, but what would you say I guess to other people who are in a similar situation and how has that been?

- I mean, the truth is we budgeted for it from day one. It was a non-negotiable for us and I think it was a value proposition also when we went to funders. So we're a nonprofit, we're a 501c3. I would call us an entrepreneurial non-profit. We go after corporate dollars the same way we go after foundation and philanthropic dollars. It's important to me to have a really diversified set of revenue streams everywhere from membership all the way through corporate underwriting, but when we went to major funders and the early philanthropists who invested in The 19th, we said to them from go these are the things we're providing and this is the reason we are going to be a nonprofit and not a for-profit. We had some folks say to us, "This business model is so good, "you should be a for-profit. "This idea is so good, you should be a for-profit." And at the end of the day when we looked at the numbers, we said there were three things that were not negotiable for us. The journalism wanted to be free. We didn't want any barrier to people accessing our work. We wanted to give our journalism, not just to readers, but to every other newsroom in the country because we know given the business model, newspapers are struggling across the country and we didn't want where you lived to determine whether you got access to The 19th journalism and then the third was the benefits. Candidly, I don't think in a for-profit, a fledgling startup for-profit we would have been able to offer those kinds of benefits. But as a nonprofit, we could build it into our business model and as I said, it was a value proposition, both for the people who support us, but by the way, also for the incredible journalists we were able to lure her away from other organizations to come to The 19th because they'd never worked anywhere with this kind of culture or these kinds of benefits.

- I'd love to come back for a second to you'd reference your launch period of The 19th and there were a couple of big opportunities early on which when we were talking earlier today, you said actually both happened on the same day. So you had a chance to sit down with Megan Markle back in August of last year which was obviously a huge deal and on the same day, you had a chance to have the first actually sit down that anyone has had with Kamala Harris, now vice president, right after the announcement of her addition to the ticket. So can you talk about what went into actually getting both of those and what was that day like for you?

- Wild, yeah, as I said, we'd had sort of this launching and fits and starts. We'd been trying to sort of get across the finish line for this big August 2020 launch and we had planned to have a launch summit and we were hoping it would be in person. We were expecting 500 people in a hotel ballroom. Obviously COVID made that impossible and so we decided we would take the whole summit virtual and when we did, we would just ask everyone and just see what stuck. So the first person to say yes actually who I owe it all to was Meryl Streep who agreed to read some really amazing suffrage speeches. I don't know, like it was playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? To get an email in front of her team. So she said yes and when she said yes, suddenly Hillary Clinton said yes and Stacey Abrams said yes and the New York Symphony Orchestra agreed to perform via Zoom and then The Go-Go's agreed to get back together and perform. It was like one thing after the other. It was like this was getting cooler and cooler and then we had this big ask in front of Kamala Harris. Coincidentally, she had said yes to us and then coincidentally, she was named Biden's VP nominee. The first woman on that ticket of that caliber. Literally it was the same week as our launch summit and she agreed to give The 19th her first sit down interview. We also had her first sit down actually as VP, but I think for her in that moment, it was she'd heard the buzz about The 19th and an organization at the intersection of gender and racial justice felt like the place for her. So that was a huge get, but probably the wildest thing in all of this is that we got a random phone call from Megan Markel's team basically saying that she's coming back to the United States and we were like, yeah, duh, of course, everybody knows she's coming back to the United States and that she'd heard about The 19th and that she cared about high-quality media and gender and racial equity and she wanted to participate in our launch summit and we almost fell on the floor. And of course I said, I would love to interview her. I have my eyeballs are getting so huge. The first sit down, tell all with Meghan Markle and they said, "No, no, no. "She wants to interview you about The 19th." And we said quickly, "Well, that works too." And so suddenly we didn't have 500 people in a room in a hotel ballroom. We had over 200,000 people engaged with us in this week long summit in real time. We hoped we'd have 1,000 paying members of The 19th in our first year, people who gave us $19 out of the goodness of their hearts and instead we had 11,000 and everything just took off from there. It was about the wildest ride of a launch you could possibly imagine, particularly given where we all were in August of 2020, which is pretty dark days between the pandemic, between George Floyd. I mean, these were difficult times, but in many ways, The 19th I think created community and space for dialogue. Honestly, there was never a better time for us to launch. So as hard as it was, I was not one of these believers in good things come to those who power through, but it really wasn't example of that.

- That's an extraordinary story and always there's a linchpin somewhere. That sounds like the Meryl Streep was the sort of cornerstone in pulling that together.

- She has no idea how grateful I am for her.

- Well, so I guess one question and there's so many questions that come from that, but one is when you have something out of the gate as explosive as that, what do you do next Monday? How do you build on that 'cause you're not going to have the same kind of attention and you're going into just building an audience and really a perspective kind of day to day from there? How do you sort of ride that wave and turn that into something sustainable daily?

- For us, it was with extraordinary journalism, right? That had to be the next piece. We had a young and sort of fledgling team that we staffed up pretty quick after that and were able to staff up pretty quickly after that big splash and I think within the early weeks, we were producing extraordinary journalism. Some of the earliest and biggest reporting on the sort of shecession, the first women's specific recession, some really explosive reporting around The Lincoln Project and a toxic environment for women in the workplace at The Lincoln Project. Investigative work, daily drum beat and then the last year, if you were a trans person, if you were a trans girl in schools, it's been supremely dramatic and difficult time. If you are on the ground in Texas or Mississippi where there are lots of conversations around restrictions around women's health, restrictions around reproductive justice, restrictions around abortion, that's been a huge story for us. The 19th is actually based in Texas which a lot of people said to us from day one, why aren't you starting The 19th in New York or in DC, or the West Coast and to be candid, this was where we were supposed to be as well in this moment and so I think it's the drum beat of great journalism that keeps the conversation going. We have certainly replicated those events. We have a big summit every year. The names have gotten bigger and better if that's possible. It has continued to grow and we have virtual events on a monthly basis around everything from gender in the military and changes there in to the role of black women in this political environment and so we've kept the conversation alive with a pretty steady drum beat. We've also had some pretty great news. Honestly, just a couple of weeks ago, we announced a $4 million investment in the National Journalism Fellowship Program that is really going to be world-class and it's going to serve graduates of historically black colleges and universities. The 19th is trying to change the game in a whole wide range of fronts and those big developments have also kept us in the headlines and our brand front and center.

- So I'd imagine that the changing the game probably has more than one piece. I mean, one part of it is that you obviously want to grow your audience and your readership and bring on more amazing journalists and tell bigger and more in-depth stories, but I'd imagine you also are hoping to influence the industry at large. So I guess the first question is what has the reaction been from other media for you doing something at least in terms of the business model, being a nonprofit which is very different than what everyone is focused on how do I monetize and there's a whole host of problems that some people see in the monetization of news and then in particular, on this focus of what has been very clearly a marginalized set of voices that just by the math you laid out are not in any way a minority, so what kind of response did you hear early on and have you seen in the broader media industry?

- I was nervous at first because I was worried of going out into the sort of field and people saying, "Well, we've done this already, "or are you saying we're not doing a good enough job? "Are you saying we're not serving these people well enough?" When the whole sort of message behind The 19th was, yeah, that is what we're saying honestly. That we have not done a good enough job centering the voices of the marginalized. We have not done a good enough job telling women's stories and so I was nervous about that, honestly, and nervous about the reception we might get. But the reality was, it's funny, the first place I spoke before the whole world's shut down in February of 2020, we had just announced The 19th and the New York Times had a women's group, a women's lunch group and they invited me to come speak and I was really scared because that was a place I thought here I am at the New York Times. They're going to be like, "Who is this girl, "this rinky-dink trying to start this thing for women "and gender minorities based in Texas of all places?" And the room was wrapped and one after another, these women were coming up to me and saying, "This needs to exist. "I'll support you. "I'll support you financially. "I'll evangelize on behalf of The 19th. "The industry's broken and we need this." And across the board, that has been the reaction which surprised me, but has also been super affirming. I also think we're seeing a 19th effect. There are organizations that have mirrored our benefit policies since then with the argument that if the scrappy 19th can, this year and a half old startup can do this, why can't we do this in our legacy institutions? And so I feel like we have really made an impact in a really short amount of time. I mean, there's still a ton of work to do, but to see that kind of reaction out and especially with our launch, I mean, we had a lot of people saying to us, "My God, basically, how did this happen? "This again, the scrappy team of people in a pandemic?" And I have had these moments I think that a lot of us have had in the pandemic which is if a tree falls in a forest, does anybody notice? If you launch a startup news organization in a pandemic, you do it literally all from your living room, does anyone notice? And in my dark moments at three o'clock and four o'clock in the morning when I wake up in a cold sweat, it's like, "Did we do this? "Did his really happen? We're still pinching ourselves. But yes, I mean, I think a lot of work left to do, but it's been surreal I think for all of us.

- So can you talk a little bit about, so part of this foundation is that your news will always be free both to people who want to consume themselves, but also to other outlets. What is that experience like and where do you hope that goes in terms of will every media outlet have their 19th column or how do you think about that?

- Yeah, I hope so. I mean, it's been interesting. Our first relationship was with Gatehouse which is the sort of USA Today network of newspapers. On our first day in business, we had a big story on the shecession on the front page centerpiece in USA Today and that network is 260 newspapers and consistently we see our journalism cropping up in those news organizations. Univision began translating our work into Spanish and distributing it which was a really early and fantastic partnership that truly was mission aligned. And then suddenly it started appearing on the national stage. The PBS NewsHour started running The 19th journalism. Our headlines have ended up everywhere from basically L Magazine, to Town & Country, to Mississippi Today which is a nonprofit newsroom and I think it's been really incredible to see organically how news organizations all you have to do is click the republish button on one of our stories and you grab that code and those stories get republished. I think going forward, intentionality is going to have to be a really sort of more critical piece of this. It's not enough for it just to be organic, we need to make sure we are targeting the communities where we want our stories to take off and so that looks like more intentional actual news and reporting partnerships with local newsrooms. It looks like working with ethnic media, with news organizations that are serving specific communities of color to get our work republished, to make it as easy as possible for them to do that and it looks like using technology to make our journalism more easily ported into newsrooms truly across the country. So that's the next, sort of the next big push for us is scale.

- Is there any sort of swimming upstream with the desire for many media outlets to have a scoop or to have exclusives where if you're trying to create something and free and you want to push it out as far and wide where there are certain people who are not interested unless they can have it sort of as their own, or is that something that you think will change over time?

- I think it's been changing. I think the industry is getting smarter. I mean, you still see in sort of DC media, this competitive. Nothing makes me crazier than like watching a press conference where you've got 50 reporters in the same room where like 47 of those reporters could be out actually breaking news or investigating something and instead everybody's hustling for that same tidbit and so I don't subscribe to that kind of journalism. I think it's wasteful and I think there's a lot more we could be doing as an industry if we were collaborating more, if we were sharing more. But I do think the industry has changed a lot and I think the advent of nonprofit news, the sort of explosion of nonprofit news over the last 10 to 15 years in particular has really moved that ball. I mean, you've looked ProPublica, one of the absolute best in the business, has been partnering with news organizations big and small since day one. The Texas Tribune where I spent 11 years before starting The 19th, we gave all of our journalism away for free to every newspaper in Texas and it was phenomenal. Some days there would be 12 Texas newspapers that had Texas Tribune stories on the front page and so I think the more we get comfortable with collaboration, with sharing our journalism, look, there aren't enough newsroom resources to go around right now and the more that we can spread the love around, I think the better off we're all going to be as public citizens.

- Coming back to sort of the start and the goal of creating equity in the creation and distribution of news, can you just share a little bit about where you are today and what you've been able to achieve which is extraordinary given the time and the resources and how difficult it is, but where you would like to see this in in the future? What does real equity look like in news?

- I honestly think real equity in news starts with real equity inside newsrooms and that's another journey that I think I've been on this past year. Like I said, I was raised in newsroom environments where if you had $100,000, you stretch that $100,000 as far as you possibly could even if it meant paying people salaries that were less than what they were worth and I think it's been really interesting to be in an environment where led by our incredible chief people officer, we did our first pay equity audit this year. We really started thinking critically about what the floor should be for our staff salaries and how we could make that floor higher than anybody else's floor. I think the last year has been a lesson in equity, in racial equity and gender equity out in the world for sure and our journalism has brought that to light day in and day out whether it's disparities in who gets access to vaccines and when to who has the luxury of complaining about working from home versus having kids at home while you're working as a janitor in a building, in a hospital? Equity is central to our functioning as a nation right now and it's a huge part of the national conversation. I think for us it's been really critical to insist that we're looking inside our organization and instituting a greater safeguards for equity there as well. So starts at home. I think it has to start at home so you can extend that work further a field.

- Before we wrap up, just one sort of final, I guess, detour on the topic. In your bio and I mentioned this at the start, you are a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. That is clearly one of the most revered and hallowed organizations and so few people I think understand anything about that. Can you talk, I guess, I'd just love to hear a little bit about what was it like to even find out that that was something that you were in consideration for and getting that offer and how has that, looking at other people in their achievements, how has that shaped you as a journalist?

- Well, first of all, it's like being part of the coolest book club ever. So it's an enormous amount of reading. My husband can attest I basically read between Thanksgiving and May nonstop, but it's an extraordinary honor and I think it's in some ways, first of all, you don't know you've been nominated, you don't know you're under consideration and you get a phone call. I was standing in the parking lot of a place called Cherrywood Coffee in Austin trying to like get my kid into her car seat and my phone starts ringing with a number I didn't recognize and I don't know why I picked it up. It was a circumstance where I wouldn't pick it up and it said, "You've been elected to the board "of the Pulitzer Prize" and I was like, "What? "I'm not running. "This must be a mistake." And they said, "No, you were nominated and you were elected "and it's now your choice whether you serve or not." And it's nine years, so it's a pretty intense board service, but it has been a gift. The board members read the three finalists or consume the three finalists in every single category. So everything from history and biography books to all of the many journalism categories and there are a lot of them, to music, to poetry, to theater and so we then deliberate on the sort of, and choose the winners from the final three in each of those many categories and there're I think 18, around 18 members of the board at any given time and I think talk about like imposter syndrome. The first time I showed up in that room with these legendary journalists and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists and historians at the Harvard ethicists and it was like what the hell am I doing here? I was afraid to open my mouth I think for the first like two full board meetings because I was afraid I was about to get exposed and the truth is we're all swimming in the same sea here. It's been magical. There are a lot of things about it I can't talk about which is super fun to have this sort of secret deep throat stuff, but it's a gift and also it requires me to consume extraordinary works of literature and journalism that I might not have otherwise consumed. To have nine years where you are forced to read the absolute best books in the world, I shouldn't say forced, it's such a gift.

- Well, thank you for sharing that. As we wrap up here and I could keep talking for a lot of time here, this is a really amazing conversation, but I like to ask the same question of everyone at the end which is just sort of looking back over the past 21 months throughout this pandemic with all of the challenges and difficulties that the world has faced and that we've faced as individuals, what in that experience has left you optimistic for the future?

- I think the big thing that has left me optimistic is in many ways, the leveling of the playing field inside workplaces. I think that might sound counterintuitive, but when we're all engaging in a Zoom screen, when we're all engaging on Slack, when people are able to have the luxuries of being at home, I mean, this sounds so silly, but for me, the gift of being able to put a chicken in the oven to start roasting like an hour before my kid gets home from school so we're not all frantic, to be able to fold a load of laundry while I'm on a meeting, don't worry, I have not been doing it on this call, I mean, all of those things sounds so silly, but it's been a sort of recentering for me of my life around my family which is really special.

- Well, Emily, thank you so much for joining me today, but thank you really so much for what you're doing. It really does feel so vital and essential and it's clear that it's having a real impact in the world and I really look forward to sitting down and talking to you five years from now to just say, wow, how amazing was all of that? But thank you for coming and sharing with us today.

- Happy to be here.