It’s a shock – of surprise, embarrassment and pride – to learn that there’s going to be an award given in your name. Eight years ago, when Bev Wybrow phoned to tell me, in her characteristically fond but wryly understated way, that Foundation supporter Liz Rykert had led an initiative to create a “Michele Landsberg Award” for feminist journalism, I was blushingly delighted. It’s been my long-cherished goal to encourage young writers to interpret the world through a feminist lens. I want to do everything I can to counteract the prevailing blinkered masculinism of so much reporting.
Little did I know how much fun and zesty debate would follow! Meetings can be such a drag on energy, but our committee discussions to set the terms of the award and choose annual winners were full of laughter, focused questioning and camaraderie. Sorting through applications was an eye-opener: not only did we discover young women of talent and sophisticated feminist analysis, but we also learned how much more work was to be done: there were applicants who seriously thought that promoting a fund-raiser for breast-cancer research amounted to “feminist journalism”.
Now the whole idea of the Landsberg award has been taken to another level, thanks to the activism of Sally Armstrong. It was her idea to give the Canadian Journalism Foundation – a prestigious national organization – the opportunity to offer the Award jointly with the Canadian Women's Foundation. After some intense negotiations, we came up with a national award for a journalist (male or female) who “shines a light on women’s equality issues in Canada”. Although the terms don’t use my beloved “f” word, I think the feminist goal is intact.
It took a team of women to conceive of this prize and to carry it through to fruition. What touches me most deeply is that, thanks to Liz Rykert, Bev, Sandra Diaz, Sally and so many others, my deepest held beliefs are being given a chance to flower in the world. Not only am I being honoured so bountifully, but feminist writing will be given real currency and younger journalists will be rewarded for having the courage and intelligence to “shine a light on women’s equality issues”.
What a thrill!
Apply to The Landsberg Award.