Sunday, October 12, 2014
Review: The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News
The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the mid-twentieth century, women were demanding equal pay in the workforce. In many ways, this also worked to demand equality in all aspects of the job. Today there is still a distinct pay gap for women, but in terms of equality in different aspects of any particular job, women have blazed a trail and made their creativity, drive and ambition just as valid as any man in the same job. That’s where The News Sorority comes in. The book by Sheila Weller takes readers on a journey throughout the lives of three prominent women in television news: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiana Amanpour.
I was glad to have the opportunity to review this book because I am a news junkie. I was also a journalism major for three years in college, though my experience with journalism only made me realize consuming the news is much more enjoyable to me than chasing after the story. My admiration for the book’s subjects to enter this field when it was still a relatively new playing field for women is immense.
What is interesting from the start is that these women are not the ones that are considered the initial trailblazers for women in journalism (think Barbara Walters), but they are the second wave who made sure that the road was paved for those who are coming up fast behind them. The book takes readers through the lives of these women, from their varied childhood backgrounds to that first spark of ambition, whether that took the form of journalism at the start or not. Many consumers of the news may be opposed to learning about this background because they are the ones who let other subjects shine in the stories they present, but I think that it gives news watchers the whole story. You can’t say that someone is sincere and emotional about a particularly story they are working on unless you know where that sincerity and emotion stems from.
The one aspect of this book that is less than appealing (and seems a bit tabloid) is all of the anonymous quotes from former colleagues, bosses and others who will readily tell you about all the negative aspects of these women and the way they may work, but only under the cover of anonymity. The inclusion (or exclusion, in some cases) of these quotes also lets readers clearly see which subject of the three just may be the author’s favorite. If you ignore quotes from the jilted and wronged, this book does provide a comprehensive look at women in journalism during the second half of the 20th century and today.
This book certainly does its job to explain how much these women had to sacrifice to get where they are today, and how in many cases men in equivalent positions do not make these sacrifices, nor are they asked to when they want to reach the pinnacle of their careers. It is a fascinating industry to belong to, though I know that if I would have stuck with it, I would have been eaten alive my first six months out of the gate. This book and the journey these women have had in journalism provides all the evidence I need to admire these women so much more than I already did.
*I received this book to review from Penguin First to Read
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