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Herstory: Three Women Who Transformed Journalism

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Despite journalism being a male-dominated field — currently, two-thirds of America’s newsrooms are comprised of males – women have found success by breaking glass ceilings in the profession.


Barbara Walters, Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer have been influential to aspiring journalists and media professionals for their tenacity in television news.


Barbara Walters

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Barbara Walters is one of the most impactful women in journalism. She started her journalism career as an assistant to publicity director and Republican activist Tex McCary of WRCA-TV. Eventually, Walters went to write for the Morning Show, airing on CBS.


According to Biography, In 1961, NBC hired Barbara Walters to work as a researcher and writer for its popular Today Show. Her initial assignments were stories slanted toward female viewers.


Eventually, Walters worked her way up and by 1964 she was a co-host of the show but didn’t receive the recognition until 1974. Walters remained on the show for 11 years, during which time she honed her trademark interviewing technique. By 1972, she had established herself as a competent journalist, Biography states.


Walters was becoming a powerful women journalist and was starting to get recognized for her amazing work, which made some her male colleagues jealous of her new-found success.


In 1979, she joined ABC’s 20/20. While on the show, she conducted several exclusive interviews such as an interview with Richard Nixon in 1980 and she interviewed former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in 1999. The Lewinsky interview was the highest-rated news program ever broadcast on a single network.


Walters has received many awards and acknowledgments throughout her career. Her first was in 1975 for first Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award for best host in a talk series. Some other rewards that she has won are the President’s Award, Lowell Thomas Award for a career in journalism excellence in 1990 and Overseas Press Club’s highest award to name a few.


In 1997, she premiered the mid-morning talk show The View. In 2013, she announced her retirement from television journalism but stated she would remain as an executive producer of The View.


Robin Roberts

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Robin Roberts impacted the journalism world as well by beginning with Sportscenter. In the 1990s, Robin Roberts began hosting Sportscenter and appearing as a guest reporter on Good Morning America. In 2005, she was hired as a full-time co-anchor of GMA, states Biography. She co-hosted with George Stephanopoulos on the show and helped raised the show ratings.


Sadly, in August 2011, Roberts was on a leave of absence from the show to receive treatment for a rare blood disease that formed when she received chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2007. She returned to the show on February 20, 2013, according to Biography


Being a woman and working as a sports anchor was not something that mixed well with people but that didn’t stop Roberts. Roberts worked for ESPN on Sportscenter for 15 years. According to Sports Video Group News, she began as an anchor on the 2:30 a.m. ET edition of Sportscenter and worked her way up to the coveted position of co-anchor on the 6 p.m.


Roberts has been recognized for all her hard work and has received some awards in the process. She was honored at the 2013 ESPYs with Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Glamour Award for Women of the Year and Survivor in 2014, News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story in 2014 and has been honored with Daytime Emmy awards.


Diane Sawyer

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Sawyer had one of the biggest impacts in journalism by being the first female correspondent for 60 Minutes and an anchor on ABC World News. She helped shaped and break down walls for women in journalism. Sawyer also was part of the White House Press when Richard Nixon was president.


Sawyer started her career out as a local weather girl, one of the few positions available to women in the news industry at the time. When her shift was over, Sawyer stayed at the station late into the night, learning how to operate the camera and edit film, according to Biography.


Eventually, after proving herself as a reporter, she went to work for CBS Morning News as a co-anchor with television journalist Charles Kuralt from 1982 to 1984. She left in 1989 and began to work with ABC as a co-anchor on Primetime Live covering many hard-hitting stories like 9/11. Sawyer then became the co-anchor of Good Morning America with Charles Gibson in 1999 and was the co-anchor of Primetime Live from 2000 to 2006. From there, Sawyer became the anchor of ABC World News, the network’s flagship nighttime news program, a position she held until 2014, according to Biography.  


Sawyer has earned many awards for her hard work and dedication, including duPonts, Emmys, Peabodys and the USC Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. She also received Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award in 2002.



Writer for Her Campus at USF. Mass Comm. major at USF. Dream job to work for Cosmopolitan in New York.
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