I am Jan Hieggelke, the publisher of Newcity and a woman.
I’m one of the founders of Newcity and have been running it, along with Brian Hieggelke and others, for more than thirty years. I am, in fact, the only person who’s been in the office virtually every day since day one, grinding out the deadlines.
What I’m not is loud, in a public sense. On the occasion of Newcity’s anniversary and the conversation about Newcity Chicago Film Project’s role in “Signature Move,” I figured it was a good time for me to get a word in.
While I may not be the face of Newcity known to much of the outside world, I certainly am vital to making it work. Brian tells people that all the time. (They listen to him, he’s a guy).
I’ve been lucky in my media career that my partner has, for the most part, treated me as an equal. I know that doesn’t often happen for women. To the outside world, I’m often disregarded—the casual assumption that my role in all of this is lesser than my partner’s. It has happened throughout my career at Newcity and nearly every time that I attend a professional or social event—“Oh, you work at Newcity too”; or “this is Brian’s wife,” which though technically true reduces me and my accomplishments to a marital status. I’ve often shrugged off the usual misogyny of men. But I get so disappointed when I encounter misogyny from other women. Most disappointing and extremely offensive is what one woman wrote on Facebook last year,“Newcity is run by a pack of white males.”If that’s the case, what have I been doing all these years?
It came into clear, sharp focus when we endeavored to start Chicago Film Project and make “Signature Move.” (Brian writes about the making of the film in this issue.) I was deeply involved, along with a huge team of people, in making that movie. Yes, I am a woman, who made a movie about women, but I got shut out of the conversation on many occasions. I know that most recognized my role and valued my presence, but since I’m new to the film industry, I was shocked at how often that wasn’t the case. All the national dialogue about empowering women in Hollywood had led me to believe that things were changing.
As a woman running a media company, it is critical that I speak out to remind everyone that behind many important endeavors, women quietly keep the wheels turning. We’re here.
I may not be the one holding the mic in public, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t make things happen. And I know plenty of other women in the same position. For every man or woman who assumes otherwise, they perpetuate the systemic problem. I hope that this cultural moment of change allows us to stop diminishing women who work behind the scenes and start to value the important role that we play. I hope that it means life gets better for all women.
We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to eradicate misogyny from our culture, both internally and externally. I’m sure that I’ve been guilty of it too—in the cultural context, it’s easy to do. So let’s get to it. We’re all in this together.
It’s nice to meet you.
Look for Newcity’s February 2018 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week.