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.

4 Replies to “The News Sorority by Sheila Weller”

  1. Came across your blog on the Nonfiction Nov link-up.
    Wow – this book sounds really interesting – I learned some good nuggets just by reading your review. I had no idea Sawyer left the White House WITH Nixon..I knew she had worked there.
    I also didn’t know about her manipulation…knew lots about Couric’s (she went to my alma mater, so I pay more attention to news about her). But, like you, I don’t watch network news (I usually get my news from the Internet or the one newspaper I read).
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is quite interesting! I think I would enjoy reading a book like this. It can be difficult to face how differently women are treated when they are placed in front of the public eye. Thanks for sharing this post with Quote Me Thursday!

  3. I’d rank my interest in these three just as Becca did. I’m almost “antagonistic” about Couric, who always felt to me like a style over substance person. I think I’d like to read more about Amanpour, though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

  4. I am not big on TV news, either. Mostly because I don’t have a TV now, but I digress. I’ve never really been a fan of Couric. She just does not come across to me as a serious newswoman. I don’t know if this is because she played into her pep school girl persona so much for the first half of her career that we can’t see her any other way or not. Even though she does hard-hitting stuff now I still feel like she is acting. Sawyer I like better and Amanpour I like the best. I think Amanpour is respected more precisely because, like you said, she went and did the hardest hitting news you can – war in the middle of a war zone.

    Btw, feel free to link this up with the diversity posts this week!

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