Today marked the New York Women in Communications, Inc. 2010 Matrix Awards, honoring, appropriately enough, women in communications (which, in this context, seems to refer to anything including, but not limited to, cooking shows, doctor’s office waiting room music, print publishing, and television). The ceremony also honored 19 scholarship recipients – all young women pursuing careers in broadcast and/or digital media, or, as several joked throughout the presentation, “your future bosses.”
For photos, video interviews, and a rundown of the red carpet, click through.
We were able to speak with some of the day’s honorees and presenters as they made their way down the red carpet, including Ina Garten, a former White House nuclear policy analyst who became a household name after opening her own specialty food store — The Barefoot Contessa — and becoming host of the popular Food Network cooking show of the same name. We asked Garten her thoughts on recent reports that, despite the fact that people were watching more cooking shows than ever (aka “food porn”), they were cooking less and less. Garten said that, while it’s wonderful that some people are able to take her recipes and make them at home, at its core her series was about creating a relationship with the viewer and going back to a time where people “gathered around the kitchen” to socialize. We listened in rapt attention as our eyes slowly morphed into little cartoon hearts, because we are among those who watch Garten’s show more because we enjoy loving close-ups of chocolate being drizzled lazily over brownies, and less because we intend to actually, you know. Make edible things.
Presenting Garten’s award was Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Anna Quindlen, who raved about her pie crust.
Marissa Mayer, vice president of search product and user experience for Google, told us that the company had been receiving a pretty positive response from the public concerning Google Buzz and that people seemed generally happy about the interface – something of a contrast from media reaction to the relatively new networking platform. Mayer was introduced by Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo and host and managing editor of Wall Street Journal Report With Maria Bartiromo.
Mariska Hargitay, the star of Law and Order: SVU spoke to us about the charity she founded, Joyful Heart Foundation. Hargitay decided to create the foundation, which “works to foster a community that turns toward the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse,” after learning of statistics relating to the violence and abuse her character witnesses on the show. Hargitay was on hand to present a Matrix Award to pop singer Sheryl Crow.
Susan Chira, New York Times foreign editor, dispensed advice for women looking to break into media: Know. Everything. She told us that, regardless of whether one chooses to work in print or online journalism, the “basics are the same:” One must strive to be both an “aggressive reporter” and an “elegant writer.” Presenting Chira with her award was her friend and colleague Jill Abramson, managing editor of the New York Times. We asked Abromson if she could tell when a piece that’s found its way under her red pen was Pulitzer material. She confided that there have indeed been times that she’s read a story and thought (and we quote): “Woop! There it is.” Here’s a video of Jill explaining the process of creating a Pulitzer-worthy story (Sadly, the video cuts off before her “Woop.” You’ll just have to trust us that it was life-altering):
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian (The Matrix people practically had to procure an additional chair and tastefully-cut ladyblazer for her prestige, powerful as it is), along with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, who presented Kearns Goodwin with her award, told us about their preferred methods of consuming news. Stahl, who is one of the founders of wowOwow.com, told us that she finds her news both in print, online, and through television, whereas Kearns Goodwin prefers her morning routine of reading the newspaper for an allotted period of time, with, perhaps, an additional newspaper-combing-session during lunches with her husband. Perhaps, as Stahl joked, this is a good strategy for avoiding lunchtime conversation? Here they are being generally wonderful:
We asked honoree Tina Fey and nonwoman Seth Meyers whether they had specific advice for women attempting to enter into TV writing or producing. Would their advice for women be different than for men? Meyers said that, no, either way “funny plays.” Fey, however (who took time out to pose with a little girl whose mother seemed a tad disappointed over her posing ability), said that it was important for female writers to strive to write what they want, and not to alter their voice to be what they think male colleagues want to hear. (Hence, sketches about Kotex products, which Fey mentioned, of course, during the luncheon portion of the ceremony.) Want more Tina? Here she is talking about co-star Tracy Morgan, who credited Fey with bringing out his “funny:”
Other honorees and presenters included Anne Keating, senior vice president of public relations, special events and corporate philanthropy for Bloomingdale’s; her presenter, anchor and colon health enthusiast Katie Couric; O editor at large and host of The Gayle King Show, Gayle King; Today show anchors Ann Curry (Who proudly proclaimed her love for Mediabistro – We love you too, Ann!), Hoda Kotb, and Kathie Lee Griffin. Oprah, who presented Gayle King with her award, was absent from the red carpet because she is Oprah.
In all, it was an inspiring mix of women working in media, philanthropy and the arts. And also Seth Meyers.