MCMA Spotlight: Jessica Stewart
Jessica Stewart is a St. Joseph native and a graduate of the University of Missouri. Stewart has 20 years of experience in photojournalism and in 2018 started her career in marketing.
After interning at a few small-town papers after college, Stewart was hired at the St. Joseph News-Press. During her time in the field, newspapers changed a lot. The number of photojournalists on staff dwindled from five to one as televised news took over the market.
“Journalism changed. As people left they didn’t fill positions,” Stewart said. “I was the last woman standing. I was the last photojournalist at the News-Press. Now they call them multimedia journalists. Everybody does everything.”
In 2018 Stewart joined SJC Marketing as an account manager. However, she still uses her media skills by shooting videos and photos for their staff.
Stewart has a unique perspective when it comes to being a woman in media. She’s gone from being the only woman in the room to being in a much more female-dominated field in marketing.
“In marketing, I feel like there are a lot more women. In photojournalism I was the only female on staff the whole time I was there,” Stewart said. “I will say it was difficult. I shot a lot of sports, and people look at you differently. They think that since you’re a woman you don’t know.”
When looking back at people who inspire her, a past professor comes to mind. Zoe Smith taught history of photojournalism and women in photojournalism. Stewart has fond memories of learning and speaking with Smith about the stigmas and stereotypes of women in photojournalism.
“It seemed to be a trend that female photojournalists were very small, petite women but we can do anything. If you want to do it go out there and do it. And now it’s changed, it’s different, the job has changed.”
Journalism will always be important to Stewart, she will always be passionate about it even from the marketing field. She hopes that future generations understand the importance of their work and how they can go and make a difference in their field.
“We need journalists who are passionate about it, who really want to hone their craft and learn the ethics, people who want to be respected,” Stewart said. “We need journalists, and not just for national news, we need local journalists. People don’t always differentiate the two and they really need to because local journalists are where you get your news. It’s where you learn your superintendent is leaving or who’s running for city council. That’s what we need.”
Stewart will be a speaker at the MCMA spring conference. She will be hosting a break-out session discussing photography that will include tips and tricks about working a camera.