In keeping with one of the more notable themes of the year, the annual Matrix Award ceremony, which celebrates women in the communications industry, on Monday honored the #MeToo movement at the Sheraton New York Times Square.
“Obviously, we are living in very strange times — politically tumultuous, socially significant and constantly turbulent,” Mika Brzezinski said while accepting her award, which was presented by her cohost and fiancé Joe Scarborough.
Last year’s honoree Savannah Guthrie, who acted as the emcee this year, mentioned that so much has changed in the media industry over the last 12 months. And indeed, it has. For example, a year ago Guthrie was introduced by her former cohost Matt Lauer, who was ousted from NBC after the #MeToo movement revealed allegations of sexual misconduct against him. “She’s a cool chick,” Lauer said of Guthrie at last year’s ceremony. “I know that expression might get me banned from future Matrix Awards, but it’s true.” (He’s definitely banned now.)
The award ceremony itself remained largely unchanged — once again, the ceremony was held over luncheon at a Sheraton near Times Square. But although the meal and the format followed a familiar program, the events of the past year injected a new energy.
“Given the reach in resonance of the #MeToo movement, it would be easy to assume that the awakening of our national consciousness was inevitable. To assume that of course men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly would be held accountable. But exposing wrongdoing, especially by those in positions of enormous power, has always been difficult work, full of equal parts drudgery and daring—and these stories were no exception,” said New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. “With courage and perseverance, these honorees managed to not only reveal abuses of power by two of the most prominent men in America, they helped spark a global reckoning that continues to reshape our society for the better.”
New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Emily Steel, who just last week won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, were honored with a standing ovation.
Other award recipients included Halle Berry; Condé Nast executive Kim Kelleher, who is the chief business officer of GQ, Golf Digest, Pitchfork, Wired and Ars Technica (and was introduced by Wendy Clark, global president and chief executive officer of DDB); The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s executive vice president of global communications, Alexandra Trower (introduced by the firm’s executive chairman William Lauder), and Combs Enterprises president Dia Simms (Sean “Diddy” Combs introduced her in a video tribute).
“Many of us in this room pride ourselves on understanding what’s going on with women in the workplace. But it turns out that even we didn’t know the half of it. We now understand that harassment and abuse is not a private shame, it’s a collective problem, a gigantic hurdle in the quest for equality. Right now, many of our readers and viewers are asking us what is going to happen to the alleged perpetrators. That’s certainly a key news question,” Kantor said. “But the bigger question is: what happens to this whole system? We would like to ask you in this room, we’d like to ask everyone in this country: are we still OK with secret settlements? Is every offense a firing offense? And most importantly, what will all of us say to our grandchildren about this moment? Will we say that we lived through a surreal couple of months and then the issue faded away? Or do all of us get to say ‘We were there at the moment the walls came down and a new spirit of common decency pervaded in the workplace?'”