Alex Pearlman has kohl-rimmed almond eyes and a shock of messy caramel –colored hair falling into her face. Her sheer, gauzy top barely conceals an arm of tattoos and her backpack is filled with a journalist’s essentials: Macbook Pro, smartphone, digital recorder, Marlboros. Bostonian Pearlman is visiting Chicago for the first time, covering NATO weekend for the Global Post.
Pearlman, 25, attended the “Shadow Summit” for Afghan women’s rights on Sunday to cover for her publication and to provide fodder for her human rights blog, simply called “Rights.”
A journalist with an enterprising streak, Pearlman created a lifestyle magazine for young professionals as a college student in Boston. East Coast advertising ace Edward Boches tapped her to edit and run an advertising magazine for young people in the industry.
“It was never going to work because marketing people can’t write,” she said.
Pearlman took the helm and transformed Boches’s concept into The Next Great Generation magazine, or TNGG for short. The young-skewing, hip content caught the eye of the Boston Globe, which eventually acquired the publication.
“I think TNGG is a great resource for newspapers to get young people involved in reading again,” she said.
Pearlman inherited her passion for human rights and foreign policy from her mother, a staunch feminist and single mom who wore shirts bearing the slogan “A Woman’s Place is in the House and the Senate.” Active and engaged in international women’s rights, her mother encouraged Pearlman to become educated about gender equality issues.
“I realized the silent majority being affected by inequality was Afghan women,” she said.
Pearlman said her goal in writing “Rights” is to launch her career as a foreign correspondent.
“I’m going to be very interested in reporting on the aftermath of this war, because I think it’s far from over,” she said, referring to Afghanistan.
She said she’s intrigued by the “sense of democracy” beginning to permeate sections of Asia.
Though she calls Boston home after living there for nearly a decade, Pearlman said she’d like to work for the Guardian’s Manhattan outpost or for a newsroom overseas.
“I never thought I’d spend more than 10 years in one place,” she said. “And American newspapers are so old-fashioned. There are actual typewriters in the Boston Globe newsroom.”
As a first-time visitor to Chicago, Pearlman admitted she’s been charmed despite the tense NATO atmosphere and protesting. “It’s very high energy,” she said.
Pearlman said her impression of the protests was “peaceful. It’s not angry, it’s optimistic. Unfortunately, the police don’t see it that way.”
The unwavering fervor of Chicago Occupiers pleasantly surprised Pearlman.
“We’ve had more Boston people at Occupy Chicago than at a general assembly in Boston,” she said.