Juliet Papa: A Woman’s History Month Icon

by HALEY BURNSIDE, Senior Writer

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of attending an event on campus in which the esteemed Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS spoke to students involved with news reporting, radio, and social media. In the hour-long conversation she had with us, each sentence seemed chock-full of information and advice that could help us in our future careers. As the event went on, it became impossible to find a single “most important” takeaway from such a successful woman. In the last five minutes, however, one moment stood out above the rest.

When answering a question about how she handles reporting on tough stories, Papa recounted how she once covered the suicide of a NYPD officer. As she talked through her experience interviewing his loved ones, her voice broke. She took a breath, steadied herself, and continued speaking. While she spoke, tears formed in her eyes, and one spilled over onto her face. She explained how powerful a story can be when it encapsulates the true human elements of the issue– all while she wiped tears from her face.

That moment is not one that I will soon forget. As a woman who has spent my college career working in news media and trying to build a career, I have heard too often that it is no place for emotion. Specifically, women trying to make it in the media are warned not to show anger or sadness, as vulnerability proves we are too weak to do the job. Though women have made immense strides in these fields in the last few decades, it seems that many believe that we still need to adjust ourselves and our femininity in order to fit into an occupation that should be void of emotion.

Juliet Papa is accomplished to say the least. Her drive and her talent are irrefutable, as evident by the long list of her accolades that was read to us at the beginning of the event. In that tearful moment she displayed, it became clear that she was the antithesis of the notion that women should rid themselves of emotion in order to be successful. Juliet is a human who tells stories. What makes her so good at it is that she knows that stories cannot exist without the integral shades of humanity. She has built an impressive career with her work ethic, and she did not have to give up her emotions to do it.

The story she told us had happened years prior, and the thought of those interviews still evoked tears from Papa. She was so connected to the people in her story that she is still moved after all this time. Maybe it is just a coincidence that this all happened in front of me during Women’s History Month, but I choose to believe it is a sign to me and all of the other students in the room– male and female– that we can be successful in our careers without losing the parts of us that connect us most to other humans. Juliet Papa serves as a prime example of this truth, and I am thankful that I have her to look up to as I prepare to leave college and start my career.