Jennifer Reitman is a lady on a mission. She wants to empower women across the country and to give voice to their concerns and issues. As the Founder of DAME Magazine, she’s uniquely poised to do so on a national scale. The content is smart, provocative, and insightful and the journalists who write for DAME are among the best and most-awarded in the industry. If the magazine itself is the vox populi of the times, then Ms. Reitman is the doyen of the playing field.
M: How did you come up with the idea for DAME?
JR: I conceived of DAME before media outlets were digital native. I had always worked in the magazine business, and I was a voracious reader, but I was never enamored with traditional women’s magazines. I tended to gravitate to general interest ones like Vanity Fair or men’s magazines like Esquire. I wanted great long-form journalism with a bit of lifestyle service, but women’s magazines were full of fashion and beauty or relationship tips. At the same time, men’s magazines were obviously for men – so the voice, the lens, the perspective wasn’t meant for me. I came up with DAME as a way to satisfy the sensibilities of me and so many of my women friends.
M: What are you most proud of when it comes to being the Founder of a magazine like DAME?
JR: I’m proud of so many things, it’s hard to pin it down to just one thing – but none of them have anything to do with me being the Founder. I’m incredibly proud of my editors, and how beloved they are by our writers. And of course, the writers themselves, they’ve won awards for the work they’ve done for us. Perhaps one of the things that moves me the most – that makes it all so meaningful, are the notes we get from readers. When we get an email from someone who tells us that they love our site or that a story moved them, well – it makes it all worth it.
M: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of the issues you cover and the stories you tell in this current political climate?
JR: There are two. The speed of the news cycle and picking what to focus on. As a small site, we can’t cover everything, so sometimes there are stories that are important pegs for our features that are moving so fast that we just can’t catch up. The second challenge is finding new angles – I think we’re good at that – but finding a unique take on a topic that almost every other site is covering can be a challenge.
M: Does it concern you that the President calls much of mainstream media fake news?
JR: Enormously. It’s hard to rank my fears with this President but his attack on one of the absolute pillars of democracy is horrifying. A free press is critical. In less than a year, he has managed to not only erode trust in the media but also his threats are truly authoritarian.
M: Walk me through a typical workday.
JR: I wake up at about 4am and review all of the overnight or morning trending news. From there, I check in with my editors to see the status of stories. I’ll work with the entire team, social and editors, to ideate future features, new writers etc. But a large part of my day isn’t creative at all – it’s the stuff that all small business owners contend with – lawyers, insurance, accountants and daily.
M: What do you think the greatest threat is to women right now in this country?
JR: Reproductive rights. Without question. Denying women agency is a goal of the GOP and it opens the door to economic oppression, abuse, so many things.
M: Were you always a Feminist? Did your parents play a big part in that growing up?
JR: I was always a very strong female – but I don’t think I discovered true feminism until I was older and had experienced all the things in terms of sexism, inequality and the like that make feminism so important. That said, my parents truly raised me to be a feminist even if they didn’t use that word. When I was nine years old, my mother (a Swedish national) took me to march on DC for the ERA and my father, an executive, always championed me and told me that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do as well as men.
M: When you’re not slaying dragons and defending democracy, what do you like to do in your spare time?
JR: Sleep and resist? I actually clean my house to relax or organize closets. I try to catch up on reading. And of course, spend as much time with my two dogs as possible.