Legal Momentum’s staff was saddened to learn of the passing of award-winning journalist Rita Henley Jensen on October 18 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Rita was the founder and executive director emerita of Women’s eNews, the website and digital news service dedicated to providing balanced, nonpartisan journalism on the issues that matter to women. As Rita noted in a 2007 interview, “It’s about everything that impacts women, which is everything.”
Women’s eNews launched as a project of Legal Momentum (then known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) on June 15, 2000, with the tagline “What News Looks Like When Women Matter." Its mission was to fill in gaps in news coverage about women. Narda Zacchino, an associate editor of the Los Angeles Times, said, “The depth and breadth of its stories are remarkable, given how timely they are.” In 2002, Women’s eNews left its home at NOW LDEF and became financially independent. In the 17 years since its launch, Women’s eNews has won numerous awards for its journalism, and it remains the only independent daily news service focused on issues of particular concern to women, with more than 1.5 million readers each year.
Prior to the launch of Women’s eNews, Rita reported for a variety of news outlets, including The National Law Journal, the Stamford Advocate, and The American Lawyer. She was a lifelong champion of women’s rights to personal safety and economic security. Rita Henley Jensen knew many of the challenges women face in daily life from personal experience. She escaped an abusive partner and relied on the government safety net for a time. She is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren.
Lori Sokol, PhD, executive director of Women’s eNews, said, “I know you will all join me in saluting the sheer talent, bravery and brilliance of one of the finest journalists our community has ever known.”