About

Meg Heckman is a journalist, author and educator focused on building a news ecosystem that is robust, diverse and equipped to serve all segments of society. She is an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism in Boston and a faculty affiliate of the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks

Meg writes regularly for a variety of publications about the intersection of gender, technology and journalism with a special focus on the experiences of female editors and publishers. Her methods include archival research, oral history, text analysis and plenty of shoe-leather reporting. She often collaborates with technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and other journalists, as well as scholars from the digital humanities, gender studies, sociology and data science. 

Her recent work has appeared in USA Today, The Boston Globe, the Columbia Journalism Review, Poynter.org and the Newspaper Research Journal. She is the author of Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper that Shook the Republican Party, which will be published by Potomac Books in June 2020. 

At Northeastern, Meg teaches a mix of graduate and undergraduate classes that support students in cultivating digitally relevant skills in verification, story craft and audience engagement. She is also the advisor for the Scope, a grant-funded, editorially independent digital magazine operated by the journalism school. In that role, Meg oversees a full-time professional editor and a team of student contributors who help tell stories of justice, hope and resilience in Boston neighborhoods. Meg continues to work as a consultant for local news organizations and conducts related research into best practices for technological innovation in rural and suburban markets.  

Before coming to Northeastern in the fall of 2017, Meg was a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire where she served as a faculty fellow at the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center and taught in UNH’s journalism program. She spent more than a decade as a reporter and, later, the digital editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor, where she developed a fascination with presidential politics, a passion for local news and an appreciation for cars with four-wheel drive. 

She’s a past president of the New Hampshire Press Association, has served twice as a Pulitzer juror and is an active member of the Journalism and Women Symposium and AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Women. 

Photo credit: Elizabeth Frantz

 

Book

Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper That Shook the Republican Party

UntitledNewspaper publisher and GOP kingmaker Nackey Scripps Loeb headed the Union Leader Corporation, one of the most unusual—and unusually influential—local newspaper companies in the United States. Her unapologetic conservatism and powerful perch in the home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary elicited fear and respect while her leadership of New Hampshire’s Union Leader gave her an outsized role in American politics.

In Political Godmother Meg Heckman looks at Loeb’s rough-and-tumble political life against the backdrop of the right-wing media landscape of the late twentieth century. Heckman reveals Loeb as a force of nature, more than willing to wield her tremendous clout and able to convince the likes of Pat Buchanan to challenge a sitting president. Although Loeb initially had no interest in the newspaper business, she eventually penned more than a thousand front-page editorials, drew political cartoons, and became a regular on C-SPAN.

A fascinating look at power politics in action, Political Godmother reveals how one woman ignited conservatism’s transformation of the contemporary Republican Party.

Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, June 2020.

Click here to reserve your copy today. If you’d like Meg to chat with your book club or speak at your local bookstore or library, please submit a request below.

 

CV

For a recent version of my CV, please click here.

I had a blog once…

This website began as a grad school blogging project inspired by something Virginia Woolf wrote long before the advent of even the most giant and rudimentary computers. In Three Guineas, she responds to a letter from an unidentified gentleman, describing the limits placed on women in the early 20th Century:

Both the Army and the Navy are closed to our sex. We are not allowed to fight. Nor again are we allowed to be members of the Stock Exchange. …We cannot preach sermons or negotiate treaties. Then again although it is true that we can write articles or send letters to the Press, the control of the Press — the decision what to print, what not to print — is entirely in the hands of your sex.

George_Charles_Beresford_-_Virginia_Woolf_in_1902_-_Restoration
Woolf in 1902. Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Much has changed in the 100 years since Woolf wrote these words.  Women serve in the military, run for public office and work as stockbrokers, ministers and, yes, journalists. But decisions about what is and isn’t news still rest largely in the hands of white men. Worldwide, women represent just one-third of working journalists. They’re even less common in the highest ranks of major news organizations and, as my own research suggests, this trend may be repeating itself at digital startups.

As journalism relies more heavily on technology and entrepreneurship — two more areas where men tend to dominate — how can we ensure women and other underrepresented groups will have a hand in building the future of news? What does their participation — or lack thereof — mean for the kinds of stories that will be told? What can we learn about the women who shaped early versions of digital journalism? And how might that history illuminate a path to a more inclusive media ecosystem?

I began to seek answers to these questions on my blog and continue to explore them through my writing and academic research. My posts are (very) sporadic but you can see them — and the blog’s full archive — here.