Female Journalists Who Helped Shape American Media

Female Journalists Who Helped Shape American Media



Throughout time a multitude of women had a significant hand in America’s landscape. Women’s History Month began in the 1980s, and by 1986, 14 states recognized notable women. The first time it was nationally celebrated was in 1987. In the realm of media, many female journalists contributed their intelligence, wit, strength, and integrity. All of them helped to shape American media.

Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd, and Martha Gellhorn are three diverse women, who have several things in common, primarily they are fabulous and reputable journalists.

Trailblazing Journalist Molly Ivins

As a journalist, she became known for her columns, her political commentary, and her humor. Ivins explained that it was difficult to become a reporter because she was a woman. When competing with men for the position, a female writer typically found herself spending her entire career writing about food, fashion, and fluff.

JournalistShe had already graduated from Smith when she traveled to Paris and studied Political Science. She loved to write and was an avid political opinionist, so becoming a journalist beckoned her. Ivins understood her odds of becoming a political writer. She knew she would need a degree.

After earning a Doctorate from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1967, Ivins took a job at the Minneapolis Tribune. She often described what it was like to be a journalist at the end of the tumultuous decade.

The uproar of the late ’60s — the antiwar movement, black riots, angry women. It was a wonderful time.

The Washington Post described her as a shamelessly leftward-thinking journalist and favorite author. Her “wicked wit and good ol’ girl-style Texas humor regularly skewered conservative politicians and targeted the pomposities of elected officials regardless of political stripe.”

Her nationally syndicated column was carried in more than 400 newspapers. She authored many books with satirical titles, like “Bushwacked,” 2003; “The Deluxe Election-Edition Bushisms,” 2004; and, in 2007, “Bill of Wrongs.”

Hard-Hitting Journalist Maureen Dowd

JournalistDowd is a columnist for the New York Times. She uses her journalist talents to push back at political leaders she deems unsavory. Of late, her hard-hitting editorials expose President Trump’s idiosyncracies, with Op-eds like, “Trump vs. Press: Crazy, Stupid Love,” and “Trapped in Trump’s Brain.”

Her journalistic career began in 1974 at The Washington Star, where she worked as an assistant editor. Dowd is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a White House Correspondent. This journalist’s voice is clear:

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

Martha Gellhorn Female War Correspondent

Gellhorn worked as a journalist for more than 60 years before her death in 1998; she was 98. Being a war correspondent was typically a job male reporters took on when she began covering conflicts. She was, indeed, among the first women to cover that arena.

JournalistFrom the time her mid-twenties, she worked hard at her craft. However, when the Bosnian war occurred, she was 81 and declined. She said she was too old to cover wars and that was should be left for the nimble journalists.

When she was 25 years old, Gellhorn traveled to Spain in 1937 and covered the Spanish Civil War, which was the first of more than a dozen wars. In 1939, she made the journey to report on the Winter War between Russia and Finland.

Gellhorn submitted stories from wartime Vietnam, the Nicaraguan conflict, and many others. She was there when the U.S. invaded Panama during Operation Just Cause between Dec. 1989 and Jan. 1990.

In 1959, Gellhorn’s war correspondence was published; “The Face of War.” In her book, she focused on the civilians and soldiers, not war-time elites, such as generals.

One of these stories was about the prisoners she saw at Dachau concentration camp. She was there when the U.S. liberated the compound on April 29, 1945.

Behind the barbed wire and the electric fence, the skeletons sat in the sun and searched themselves for lice. They have no age and no faces; they all look alike and like nothing you will ever see if you are lucky.

She wrote stories at they presented themselves. Rick Lyman for the New York Times explained Gellhorn’s policies when it came to reporting.

As a journalist, Ms. Gellhorn had no use for the notion of objectivity. The chief point of going to cover anything, she felt, was so you could tell what you saw, contradict the lies and let the bad guys have it.

There are many distinguished journalists of each gender; however, there are more men than women. Female journalists are still outnumbered and must work harder for recognition. Many succeed in making a difference in America’s landscape, and some female journalists make history.

By Cathy Milne


Washington Post: Columnist Molly Ivins, 62; Poked Fun at the Powerful
New York Times: Maureen Dowd; Mini-bio and Author Archive
New York Times: Martha Gellhorn, Daring Writer, Dies at 89

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jun Wang’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of CBS News – Used With Permission
Second Inset Image by Denise Williams Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Third Inset Image by U.S. Postal Service Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License