US journalist Betsy West: Women can change the world

Arab news: Women are a very important part of the community regardless of their race or nationality, said Betsy West, professor at the School of Journalism in Columbia.
West was speaking to Saudi journalists on the sidelines of her presentation at the US Consulate in Jeddah on Thursday.
Her presentation-cum-workshop was entitled “Women in the Media” where she explained how American women, by their participation in the media, had changed it. “Women, Saudi or American, can change the world through their hard work and intelligence,” West said.
She is the executive producer of the innovative, multiplatform project, Makers: Women who Make America. Prior to joining the School of Journalism as a faculty member, West had more than 25 years of experience in television news and documentary film production.
Makers was launched on Feb. 28 via the website with edited stories, excerpts from about 100 interviews conducted with women of achievement, including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sheryl Sandberg, Barbara Walters, Gloria Steinem, Alice Waters, Ellen DeGeneres, Judy Blume, Condoleezza Rice and many other ground breakers from all walks of life. “The goal is to show how women in American society have been important to the country’s economy, development and progress,” she said.
West shared the success stories of many American women from media and journalism who participated in the women’s movement. She said that whether in America or Saudi Arabia, women are part of the national development and economy and without their contribution, progress is hampered. Her aim is to spread awareness about the contribution of women in American history, their struggle in media, sports and other activities.
She said that success is not achieved in a day; there is hard work behind every success. She also advised Saudi and Arab women that in order to carve out their place in society they should use their pain and anger in a positive way; women should help each other as they can make a difference.
West joined the women’s movement as a journalist, working for many publications in the days when American women were taking legal actions to change the law and thinking of society in a media mainly dominated by men. She explained that her motivation behind Makers was to let the world, and especially America, know about the influence of the women of America.
West said she was very surprised and impressed with the number of successful Saudi women she encountered during her trip to the Kingdom. Makers rolls out over the next year, as more stories about women’s transformative role in society are added to every month.
Makers debuted in early 2013, with a broadcast of a three-part documentary series on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) that drew from the 100 interviews to tell the story of the modern women’s movement over the last half century. West and her team at Storyville Films oversaw and conducted most of the interviews. She is currently working on another documentary as executive producer, with producer Barak Goodman.

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