20 women to watch

A by-no-means-complete list of eXXcellent talents we'd bet on to map the future of the media business

Molly Bingham (@4GJournalist) Descended from a venerable newspaper family, Bingham is an intrepid photojournalist and filmmaker who’s now launching ORBmedia, which plans to sift data from various nations on basic human needs and then use what it gathers to create a daily multimedia story for global consumption.

Adda Bjork Birnir (@addabjork) Birnir has worked as a writer and Web producer for the likes of MTV, Flavorpill, and the public-access collective Paper Tiger TV. (And yes, as her middle name suggests, she was born in Iceland.) She recently cofounded Skillcrush, a cheerful online site that demystifies tech, on the principle that “more women need to be makers—not just consumers—of great Web products.”

Michelle Ebanks As longtime steward of Essence and now also People en Espanol, Ebanks has shown how to turn a passionate audience, strong content, and cross-category ad support into a massive events business (case in point: Essence Music Festival, which drew more than 400,000 people to New Orleans last July Fourth weekend).

Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) This Middle East expert is a global soul: Born in Egypt and based in New York, Eltahawy regularly covers Arab and Muslim issues for media outlets in Canada, Israel, and Denmark, not to mention The Washington Post and International Herald Tribune.

Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) She got her start working as a stringer in Ukraine. Now editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, Freeland previously held a variety of jobs at the Financial Times and was also deputy editor of The Globe and Mail in her native Canada. Her first book, Sale of the Century, explored Russia’s embrace of capitalism; she is now at work on another tome.

Ann Friedman (@annfriedman) Until the recent bloodbath there, Friedman was executive editor of GOOD magazine (and the genius behind the wicked Tumblog EditorRealTalk, in which she appended hilarious captions to animated GIFs). She will continue to curate LadyJournos!, a website showcasing women’s writing, and is joining other GOOD castaways on new magazine called Tomorrow.

Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) Host of her own weekend show on MSNBC, Harris-Perry writes a column for The Nation and is also a professor at Tulane, focusing on gender, race, and politics in the South.

Jennifer 8. Lee (@jenny8lee) She made her name during nine (not eight) years at The New York Times; nowadays, her brain often hovers above the intersection of journalism and tech, where she helps out (among others) the Knight News Challenge, News Foo, and Hacks/Hackers. She is listed as a Good Person to Know at the new Chris Hughes-Eli Pariser venture, Upworthy (which aims to make deserving ideas go viral), and also advises the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies.

Dany Levy (@danylevy) After working on the Sales and Bargains section of New York magazine, Levy started Daily Candy out of her apartment (it’s now owned by Comcast). Lately, she and several co-conspirators are packing Punch!, an iPad-only pop-culture magazine-cum-game designed to harness social media.

Monica Lozano (@monicalozanored) Also a graphic artist, Lozano is making her mark with high-impact, large-scale photography, currently focused on the troubled border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Aminda Marques Gonzalez (@MindyMarques) Marques is keeping it local: She began at The Miami Herald as an intern and is now executive editor and vice president there.

Amanda Michel (@amichel) Michel seems to blaze trails wherever she goes. Having cut her political teeth on the Howard Dean and John Kerry presidential campaigns, she joined the Fourth Estate, launching the Off the Bus election coverage for the Huffington Post, coordinating “distributed reporting” for ProPublica, and now serving as Open Editor of The Guardian.

Betsy Morgan A kind of disruptor-in-chief, Morgan went from serving as CEO of HuffPo to presiding over the newly combined Blaze and GBTV, the social-media-fueled multiplatform juggernaut that is Glenn Beck.

Anjali Mullany (@anjalimullany) Mullany joined the New York Daily News while studying for her master’s at NYU and set to work using Twitter and other new tools to amp up breaking-news coverage; during Hurricane Irene, reporters could post right to the site by texting from their phones. She’s now at Fast Company, plotting its digital strategy.

Maria Popova (@brainpicker) Popova trawls the Web for what she calls “interestingness” and posts her finds on her Brain Pickings blog and on Twitter. She is also an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow, which sounds like fun. Among her fans: genius author William Gibson, MoMA tastemaker Paola Antonelli, and Twitter’s Karen (@kvox) Wickre.

Mara Schiavocampo (@maracamp) Schiavocampo is the first backpack journalist to break into the big-time network news ranks. She reports, writes, snaps still photos, shoots and edits video—and then files to the various NBC News broadcast and digital platforms.

Tiffany Shlain (@tiffanyshlain) After founding the Webby Awards during the first dotcom boom, Shlain returned to her first love: documentary film. Her projects have tackled everything from reproductive rights, digital-device addiction, and the Barbie doll as emblem of Jewish identity. Her “Declaration of Interdependence,”; a four-minute short with music by Moby, has been translated into 65 languages.

Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) Founding editor of Gawker, Spiers has worked on at least a half dozen media startups and advises many others. Currently, she oversees the reinvigorated New York Observer. Her long-awaited debut novel: And They All Die in the End.

Amy Webb (@webbmedia) Relentlessly curious, Webb is a journalist by training, and her beat is emerging technologies for media. She shares what she learns with legacy-media clients and also her colleagues (along with Jenny Lee and Amanda Michel, mentioned above, she is a co-founder of Spark Camp). Data: A Love Story, which tells how Webb gamed JDate and met her husband, will be published by Penguin next Valentine’s Day.

Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) An alumna of Wired, Wortham smartly covers the tech-startup scene for The New York Times, thereby turning a spotlight on whatever she finds newsworthy. The industry blog Tecca recently listed her among the 10 most influential women in tech, alongside the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and Arianna Huffington.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.