Judith D Collins
The News Sorority
Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News
By Sheila Weller
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: 9/30/2014
My Rating: 4 Stars
A provocative look at the three remarkable women who revolutionized television broadcast news.
For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism, until finally three—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour—broke through, definitively remaking America’s nightly news. Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, bestselling author Sheila Weller crafts a lively and eye-opening narrative, revealing the combination of ambition, skill, and character that enabled these three singular women to infiltrate the once impenetrable “boys club” and become cultural icons.
Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a driven, elegant young woman in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and mysterious emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while anchoring the network flagship, ABC World News Tonight.
Katie Couric, always convenient l y underestimated because of her girl-next-door demeanor, brazened her way through a succession of regional TV news jobs until she finally hit it big in New York. In 1991, Couric became the Today show cohost, where over the next fifteen years she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent. Couric’s greatest triumph—and most bedeviling challenge—was inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, as the first woman ever to anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program.
A glamorous but unorthodox cosmopolite— the daughter of a British Catholic mother and Iranian Muslim father—Christiane Amanpour made a virtue of her outsider status. She joined the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then became its “face,” catalyzing its rise to global prominence. Her fearlessness in war zones and before presidents and despots would make her the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice.
The News Sorority takes us behind the scenes as never before to track Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s ascendance to the highest ranks of the media elite, showing that the compelling desire to report the news—a drive born of curiosity, empathy, and humanity—must be matched by guts, awesome competitive fervor, and rare strategic savvy.
A special thank you to First to Read Penguin Group, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Sheila Weller is a bestselling author and award-winning magazine journalist specializing in women’s lives, social issues, cultural history, and feminist investigative. Her seventh book, The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, a well-researched and written book about three extraordinary women.
Weller portrays three revolutionary women: ABC's Diane Sawyer, the first female correspondent for 60 Minutes; Katie Couric, who conquered the world as Today cohost; and CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a male-dominated realm of network news.
All three of these women are legends, today's professional heroines; modeling a reality of success that was different from past models. The more powerful they became, the more interested in people they became. They are compassionate, in the stories they have told, and in their lives.
As Weller takes as inside look at these prominent women who remained profoundly committed to telling the stories of ordinary Americans, unfairly besieged victims, people in cataclysms and crises, fascinating celebrities both worthy and spoiled, world leaders both benign and heinous.
These leaders passionately kept up their commitments to their families, friends, and needy strangers through both improvised and formal philanthropies. They remembered what they had pushed past—grief, danger, and tragedy, and the more they saw and reported, the more they folded the new experiences into those primary lessons.
“Intensely competitive, whatever their idiosyncrasies, whatever their egos, whatever their aggressiveness and ambition, they retained an experienced kernel of humbling reality and it controlled their choices and the consciences. From world news, 9/11, Columbine, earthquakes, corruptions, cancer, to poverty, we got the news from them. And we also got from them what is underneath the news, what is underneath all news: We got humanity."
Weller writes in a journalistic style, versus narrative nonfiction, which I found appealing, written in a balanced style with the vast amount of research and interviews, with humor. Even though she did not interview these three women directly, through interviews of many, she was able to attain insights and memories, while maintaining control over her writing.
A book of three heroines, who came of age in the 1960s and '70s—to demonstrate to readers, how they worked and how they made it to prime time. In a difficult time and a hard business these women put themselves out there where millions expected perfection, against the odds.
I enjoyed reading about a highly competitive world, each woman with their own unique strengths. Their focused ambition, and high quality of work as they strive to be better in a man’s world.
Very well written and researched, and an interesting reporting style. The format was very well organized with the range of years (which was quite interesting), as in this age bracket focusing on each woman with extensive research and references. Inspiring, three remarkable women - News buffs will love it!
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