It's been two steps forward, one step back for women in media organizations across the United States over the past four decades. Kristin Gilger and Julia Wallace have gathered stories from many of the most influential women of the newsrooms and dissect what it takes to succeed in male-dominated organizations when you are female. Some of the stories cemented my admiration for media superstars in perpetuity. International correspondent and legend Christiane Amanpour, that shout-out is for you.
Topics covered include how women have shaped culture and coverage through the news, diversity, dealing with sexual harassment, balancing work and family obligations, and what's next. One of the most fascinating chapters features digital media and the long road to today's online landscape. What would life be like without Arianna Huffington paving the way? I can't imagine it.
The title of the book comes from the legacy of women in the newsroom being tough, whiskey drinking, hard-edged reporters who were fierce and fearless and more likely to swear than cry. If you were going to cry (although you never would) you were not going to do it at work, ever. Not even in the privacy of a bathroom. Women who cried at work were deemed overly dramatic, unstable, and not in control of their emotions. Ranting was considered far more acceptable but if you were too scary or blunt you were called other things. If you were a more passive personality you were considered wimpy and detached, possibly incompetent, and were likely overlooked for anything other than getting coffee or sandwiches. The discussion of effective ways to lead was eye-opening and valuable for me as a professional woman and would be useful for everyone in the workforce to talk about more openly. The book ends on a high note detailing how modern workplace culture is changing and I'm hopeful for the next generation.
The authors have impeccable credentials. Gilger spent more than 20 years reporting and editing at various news organizations and is currently senior associate dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Wallace was a media executive and high-ranking editor at four major newspaper for more than twenty years and currently serves as the Frank Russell Chair at the Walter Cronkite School.