JANE BRYANT AND MARTHA QUINN. Two women who have made it in a business where mother-and-daughter families are as rare as white peacocks
BLOND Jane Bryant Quinn stares deep into the CBS News camera to tell her audience what it needs to know about rampaging bull markets, IRAs, and tax-free municipal bonds. Brunet Martha Quinn beams into the MTV camera to tell her audiences what they need to know about Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and the Rock Hall of Fame.Skip to next paragraph
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The Quinn women make up one of the most eclectic multimedia families in the business:
Jane Bryant Quinn covers the business waterfront for CBS News. She writes an award-winning column on personal finance for Newsweek, two columns a week appearing in 200 newspapers for the Washington Post syndicate, and an additional ``Money Facts'' column for Family Circle magazine. She is also the author of a Book-of-the-Month-Club selection, ``Everyone's Money Book.''
Her stepdaughter, Martha Quinn, is the resident elf and popular VJ (video jockey) on MTV, the cable channel devoted to rock music which reaches 26 million homes nationwide.
Mother-and-daughter media families are as rare as white peacocks, for reasons Jane Bryant Quinn makes clear over a true working press lunch. We are sitting in her corner office on the 11th floor at Newsweek, where she has just wrapped up one deadline and is about to skate off to another at CBS. Magna cum laude mail girl
Over roast beef and turkey sandwiches at her desk, she explains how hard the women of her generation had to struggle for a place in the media that generations of fathers and sons had taken for granted.
When she graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Middlebury College in 1960, she found that as a woman, ``being good wasn't good enough.'' Men with those credentials were hired as writers; she applied for a writing job, but was given a $50-a-week job as a magna cum laude mail girl. She soon learned that at Newsweek women were not allowed to write; the most they could hope for was to be researchers or, if promoted, ``one could only be an older researcher.''
She points out that Newsweek isn't like that anymore, and hasn't been since the '70s, when a group of Newsweek women brought a civil rights suit for discrimination on the basis of sex.
Mrs. Quinn herself had long since left Newsweek by then to learn reporting and writing as J. B. Quinn on The Insider Newsletter, where men were paid 30 percent more than women. Later she became co-founder and editor of The McGraw-Hill Personal Finance Letter. Newsletters were ``the only way I could do what I wanted to do, because of the discrimination against women'' in publishing, she says.
Quinn is sitting in her cream-colored office behind a blond teak desk piled with papers, charts, and graphs. In person she has a softer prettiness, more warmth and vivacity than on the CBS news stand-ups or print photos. Nor does she ``dress for success''; Quinn clearly gets a kick out of looking feminine, wearing a svelte black-and-white dress with a white ruffle at the neck, pearl and jet earrings, black pumps as high as the Dow Jones average. She is slender, with streaked dark blond hair, blue eyes that sometimes look hazel, and a gaze as direct as a child's. Business reporting for the little guy
Even today, after she's successfully made it as a nationally recognized personal-finance columnist, she says, ``I have had people tell me, `Well, we would love to buy your column, Jane, but the business editor hates women columnists.' These people are almost always over 60. I look forward to their early retirement, every one of them,'' she says with a sunny laugh.
Quinn met her husband in the most delicious possible way for a woman reporter.
``I interviewed him,'' she purrs. ``Isn't that nice?''
David Quinn was president of the Airways Club (now the Airline Passengers Association), and she was doing a story on airline fuel.
Their marriage was a merger that now includes their 17-year-old son, Justin, and her son, Matthew Ostrowski, by her first, brief marriage, as well as David Quinn's children by his first marriage: his grown sons David, Christopher, and their families, and his daughter, Martha. ``We have a very long table at Thanksgiving,'' in Chappaqua, N.Y., Quinn says.