What is W? Jane McManus answers the question

What is W?

Essentially that's what I'll be discussing with my fellow panelists on Tuesday. We are journalists who have spent our lives playing and covering sports. We have trailed after 6-foot-4, 300 pound linemen after a tough loss to get a quote, we've watched as our own hometown newspapers glanced over women's sports teams in our markets.

We've had to fight to get coverage of women's sports in the paper, had to write it ourselves because it was considered women's work. Our W is a work in progress, a big concept. A place where stories about and by women are treated seriously.

I just missed last year's W Summit, but I asked a lot of questions of the people who did go. They nearly always talked about it with the conviction of the converted. Especially the women.

I'll never forget when I covered the inaugural Liberty game at Madison Square Garden. As a basketball player, it was tough to keep any objectivity seeing women who were going to be paid in a professional league where the team uniform wasn't a unitard. The anthem and the lights went off and, on the floor where I'd watched John Starks and Patrick Ewing dozens of times before, the announcer introduced Teresa Weatherspoon, Sophia Witherspoon, Rebecca Lobo.

I think that's the way last year's Summiteers reacted to the concept of W. It hits you in the gut. Women won't be in the sidebar box, and there will be pictures of athletes even if they aren't wearing short skirts.

I'm really committed to seeing W succeed. There are changes in every venture -- even the New York Times occasionally tweaks the typesetting. I want to be one of the storytellers, refining our voice and commenting on the sports stories that make your blood pump a little faster.

I'll be in the company of Jackie MacMullan, Sarah Spain and Bonnie Bernstein -- women I've known in the field for years and respect. Here's a shorthand if you haven't met them. Jackie is an athlete and the legend in this business. Bonnie is the best-prepared reporter on the field. Sarah can put you at ease in two minutes and make you laugh until your abs hurt.

We are W. And we'll be talking about where we go from here.

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