Making news, making history

Lynn PovichFor a feminist and a journalist, getting the chance to interview Lynn Povich was an opportunity not to be missed. We arrived at her hotel in Bombay, armed with dictaphone and a long list of questions. Twenty minutes into the interview we suddenly realised we were doing all the talking. Encouraged by her warm friendliness — and obvious skills in drawing people out — we the interviewers had become the interviewees!

It must be this very real interest in people that has fuelled Lynn's more than three decades of experience in the media. Currently co-chair of the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), she was managing editor and senior executive producer of East Coast programming for MSNBC on the Internet from 1996 to 2001 and editor-in-chief of Working Woman magazine from 1991 to 1996, and senior editor at Newsweek — the first woman in the magazine's history to be appointed to this post — from 1975 to 1991.

Lynn made history when she, along with fellow women researchers at Newsweek, sued the management for sex discrimination in 1970. As a journalist and an activist, she has been part of the women's movement and instrumental in making women's voices heard in mainstream US media. As co-chair of the IWMF, Lynn has worked to empower women in the media, expand the organisation's very successful centre for training women journalists in Dakar, Senegal, and revamp the foundation's website to expand the reach of its programmes for women journalists.

In the limited time we had with Lynn on her short visit to India, we did not get much time to learn about her personal life, though we did meet her equally well-known husband, Steve Shepard, editor of Businessweek. Later, searching on the Internet for information, we discovered that she comes from a family of veteran media professionals. Her father, Shirley Povich was one of The Washington Post's most revered sports writers for 75 years, and Lynn is currently working on an anthology of his columns, to be published next year. Her brother Maury Povich is a popular television talk show host, and his wife Connie Chung is a high profile TV news journalist. Lynn and Steve have two children.

Povich has received numerous honours, including a 1976 Matrix Award from Women in Communications for exceptional achievement in magazines, as well as a 1992 and 1995 Exceptional Media Merit Award from the National Women's Political Caucus.

Excerpts from a long and fascinating trek back in media and feminist history with Lynn: