Letter from the Editors

Introducing The SLR’s New Publishing Partner

Ruth Ann Harnisch is an investor, donor activist, and film and media producer who gives boldly to accelerate equality.

Ruth Ann Harnisch

The Sunday Long Read team was thrilled this week to announce its first publishing partner: Ruth Ann Harnisch. Here’s a bit more about Ruth Ann:

Ruth Ann Harnisch is an investor, donor activist, and film and media producer who gives boldly to accelerate equality.

Her media career taught her the power of activists’ money and good storytelling to drive cultural change. Ruth Ann was one of Nashville’s female broadcast news pioneers, working at the CBS-TV News affiliate, WLAC-AM and the Nashville Banner.

Now, through The Harnisch Foundation and her personal account (whence cometh the SLR sponsorship money), she invests in leaders and creative communities working for a more equal and inclusive world.

She has a heart for the underpaid journalist, as her first on-camera job paid so little she qualified for (what was then known as) food stamps. When she pointed this out to the GM, he gave her a raise that put her one dollar over the threshold for public assistance.

To learn more about Ruth Ann and her new partnership with the SLR, here’s a Q&A she did with our Don Van Natta Jr.

How did you discover The Sunday Long Read?

Probably Rachel Sklar, through TheLi.st, a network of professional women she co-founded with SLR’s Glynnis MacNicol, who would be the other probable suspect. Many Sister Listers have made the SLR masthead shine.

And what about it first appealed to you and appeals to you now?

As a recovering journalist, I love reading the best work other people are doing. Finally, I’m so old that I’m not jealous of everybody with a better assignment/paycheck/GM.

If there’s one thing you could change about the SLR, what would it be? 

I’d like to negotiate a one-time-freebie into EVERY paywalled selection. This could be accomplished by their gift which you acknowledge generously, or underwriting for a minimum/maximum number of clicks. Being a paying member at any level could get you some of those underwritten clicks as a perk.

Why have you decided to become our first title sponsor?

When I earned my living as a journalist, I was a combo platter of poor and broke. Currently I am neither. Supporting a fair and free press is a philanthropic priority, supporting good content (whether or not it’s “fair”) is a personal passion. I’m glad to help pay journalists for their work. And I like that the SLR is a new clubhouse for journalism’s cool kids.

You are a former reporter. What was your favorite assignment (or beat) and what did you like least about gig?

I had a long and varied career in television, radio, and newspapers. As a high schooler, I had an office job at one of the two daily newspapers and a “Teen DJ” radio gig  at WYSL-FM, Buffalo. I would pay for any photographic evidence of “Karin Kelly” waving from the convertible in a parade “Welcoming The Blue Max.”)

There’s a favorite (something) for every day of my long career, but the moment that flashed into my mind was the leap to hyperspace at the premiere of Star Wars, gasping along with the audience seeing it on the first showing of the first day.

I had been pestering the assignment desk for weeks to let me cover the first showing of this movie. I read all the trades and I knew it was going to be big news.

Finally I got the OK. The videographer and I were wide-eyed at the prospect of getting paid to watch a movie. When the Millenium Falcon disappeared into the stars, I felt like the luckiest person on the face of the earth: I had this amazing job being on television, and I was getting paid to be the first to see a movie everybody was going to want to see. Getting paid to sit in a theater and watch a movie was a far cry from the low points you asked about.

Being a young (started in high school as I mentioned, first TV news job at 23) pioneering female in a sexist Mad Men era was a daily MeToo series. Low points were too numerous to mention. Most egregious that would never happen today: Warden at the (now closed) Tennessee State Prison thought it was amusing to lock me in with Old Sparky and a Trustee. “Tell ‘er whatcher in for,” he drawled.

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