S4-EP19: Paula Span on Ageism, Journalism, and the Art of Grandparenting
Debbie talks to veteran journalist and New York Times’ columnist Paula Span about ageism, journalism, legacy, and the art of grandparenting.
Debbie speaks with Paula Span, a veteran journalist and the author since 2009 of the New York Times’ column, The New Old Age. The column explores, as the Times’ puts it, “the unprecedented challenges posed by a rapidly aging population.”
That’s a pretty broad topic so Paula covers everything from the cost of growing older, to social security for same sex couples, to stubborn aging parents, to the evolving status of medical aid in dying (MAID), formerly known as death with dignity.
In 2017, after becoming a grandmother, she added a second Times column, Generation Grandparent. She’s adapted those essays for her audiobook “The Bubbe Diaries,” released by Audible in 2021.
She’s also a revered professor of journalism, having taught at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism for over two decades.
She is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions,” published by Hachette.
She and Debbie talk about how she explores the topic of pernicious ageism for the Times – not with personal opinion – but with research and data and expert interviews. Each of her columns gets a huge response with readers leaving as many as 500 comments.
They talk about her approach to writing as a freelance journalist (always say YES, she tells Debbie, no matter what the assignment is). And they talk about her artful approach to grandparenting. She lives in Montclair, N.J., and travels to Brooklyn once a week to care for her granddaughter.
This is an intriguing behind-the-scenes peek at writing for the Times from a veteran journalist.
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- The New Old Age, Paula’s column for The New York Times
- Generation Grandparent, Paula’s occasional column for The New York Times
- The Bubbe Diaries by Paula Span (Audible, 2021)
- When the Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions by Paula Span (Hachette, 2009)
- Paula Span at Columbia Journalism School
- Tallying the Cost of Growing Older by Paula Span (The New York Times, October 3, 2021)
- For Terminal Patients, the Barrier to Aid in Dying Could be a State Line (The New York Times, Nov. 13, 2021)
- Sally Tannen
- Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live by Becca Levy PhD (William Morrow, 2022)
- Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen (Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition 2020)
- Jane E. Brody – The New York Times
- Thanks, Jane Brody, for Nudging Us to Be Better by Tara Parker-Pope (The New York Times, February 24, 2022)
- Richard Eisenberg
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