The News Sorority by Sheila Weller

/ posted in: Reading

I’ll preface my review with saying that I haven’t watched TV news in about 10 years so I’m not up to date.  I’m not a fan because it seems to play to the lowest common denominator and consists mostly of sensationalism and fear mongering.  This book did not change my mind.

Diane Sawyer – I didn’t know anything about Diane Sawyer.  She was a beauty queen who went on to work in the Nixon White House.  After Nixon resigned, she went with him to his home in California and spent years working with him on his papers.  This tainted her in the eyes of a lot of reporters when she went into television.

Christiane Amanpour –  She was born in Iran to a well-off family who had to flee to London during the Revolution.  She moved to the U.S. to go to the University of Rhode Island.  She made some friends at nearby Brown University including John Kennedy Jr.  Her name, looks, and accent meant that no one wanted her on air at CNN, even at the foreign desk.

Katie Couric – Everytime I look at her the words “Evil Robot” pop into my head.  I asked the husband about this and he said that was universal.  I guess that means that I’m biased about her story.  I used to watch the Today show as a kid but quit when she was hired because I couldn’t handle the bubbly, seemingly insincere persona.

I don’t know exactly how I feel about this book.  The sexism in the book is overwhelming.  Partially, that is the point.  These women all had a lot to overcome to get to the heights of their careers.  But, when you read things that are said about them I was never quite sure if it was fact or if people were saying it because they were women.  This is addressed a little bit.  The author gives some examples where women were critiqued much more harshly than men for doing the same thing but it didn’t help dispel the notion that a lot of people interviewed were critiquing them as women first and journalists second.

There is a lot of discussion of the different forms of manipulation practiced by Sawyer and Couric.  Couric appears to be a lot more up front about it.  Again I’m not sure about the word.  Are people calling it manipulation because they are women?  Would it be called “good business sense” in a man?  Would it even be mentioned?

Amanpour is the only one that people were routinely positive about.  Is that because she is a nicer person or because she spent most of her career in war zones and away from the political infighting of the other women’s careers?  I found her sections to be the most interesting.