Back to IndieWire

The 40 Women Who Changed Journalism

The 40 Women Who Changed Journalism

And the world over the last forty years.  From the good folks at the Columbia Journalism Review.  We owe our thanks to these trialblazers.  Are there others you would have on this list?

Jill Abramson – First woman to be executive editor of The New York Times

Christiane Amanpour – CNN’s fearless, globe-trotting war correspondent

Tina Brown – Author and editor who rescued Vanity Fair, updated The New Yorker, and became the first woman on top at Newsweek

Betsy Carter – Visionary and mentorly founder of New York Woman magazine

Connie Chung – First Asian-American prime-time news anchor

Gail Collins – First woman named editorial-page editor of The New York Times

Katie Couric – First woman to solo-anchor a prime-time network news broadcast

Christine Craft – A 40-something TV news anchor who sued for age discrimination (she was demoted in 1981 after a focus group said she was “too old, too unattractive and wouldn’t defer to men”)

Anthea Disney – The Rupert whisperer, who blazed trails across all platforms of the Murdoch media empire

Nora Ephron – The most successful Hollywood director New York journalism ever produced (yes, she did time at the New York Post, Newsweek, and Esquire)

Arianna Huffington – Author and networker extraordinaire whose viral blog network upended the industry

Charlayne Hunter-Gault – Heroine of school desegregation who joined what was then known as The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978. She later left PBS to report from South Africa for NPR and CNN.

Molly Ivins – Trenchant columnist who stood taller in her cowboy boots than most men

Dorothy Kalins – Launcher of magazines (Saveur, Garden Design) and peerless spotter of young talent

Geraldine Laybourne – Longtime TV executive and cofounder of Oxygen, where she instituted a crossgenerational Mentor’s Walk for women in various fields

Frances Lear – Creator of her groundbreaking eponymous magazine “for women of a certain age”

Ellen Levine – Longtime editorial boss at Hearst Magazines, who has shepherded dozens of magazines and launched hundreds of careers

Carol Loomis Exemplary financial journalist at Fortune, where she’s worked since 1954

Susan Lyne – Now in online commerce, but a supreme role model and mentor as founder of Premiere and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Rebecca MacKinnon – Co-founder of the Global Voices online community and former Beijing bureau chief for CNN; now a wise voice on global Internet policy

Sonia Nazario – Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times journalist (“Enrique’s Journey”)

Martha Nelson – Founding editor of InStyle, now a heartbeat away from running the almighty edit side of Time Inc.

Asra Q. Nomani – Muslim feminist author who spent 15 influential years at The Wall Street Journal

Peggy Orenstein – New York Times Magazine writer who has brought feminist and motherhood issues into the 21st century

Geneva Overholser – Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Des Moines Register, now a journalism educator and all-around role mode

Lynn Povich and the other women who sued Newsweek for sex discrimination

Anna Quindlen – Newspaperwoman turned novelist and essayist who makes everyday life lyrical

Maria Elena Salinas – Iconic anchor of Univision news programs

Diane Sawyer – First female correspondent on 60 Minutes now anchoring ABC News

Liz Smith – The grande dame of showbiz news, dogged campaigner for literacy, and mentor to many

Lesley Stahl – Trailblazer in Washington coverage who has become a standard bearer for 60 Minutes

Susan Stamberg – The original voice of NPR’s “All Things Considered

Gloria Steinem and the Ms. crew, who (among other things) changed the way the world addresses women

Martha Stewart – Embodiment of the human multimedia brand

Kara Swisher – Co-founder of All Things D, who crashed the frat party of tech coverage

Betsy Wade and the women who sued The New York Times for sex discrimination

Barbara Walters – TV news pioneer with many firsts to her credit

Ruth Whitney – Who in 31 years as editor of Glamour mentored talents such as Cindi Leive and Charla Krupp

Oprah Winfrey – Queen of all media

Susan Zirinsky – The first woman to produce a prime-time network news show, for CBS

The Divine Sisterhood – CJR

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , ,


Louise Fleming

No Amy Goodman? or Esther Armah or Laura Flanders????


How did Veronica Guerin not make this list? I mean, Guerin died because of her story on rampant drugs on the Irish streets.

Or Marie Colvin, who recently died in Homs, Syria, reporting not the war but the effects of war and the damage if has on the civilian population. It brought a humanity to the Syrians that Westerners haven't known.

These are women who stood up to tell a story that needed to be told, stories that needed to inspire people to take action against injustice.

I'm usually on board with most things on this blog, but damn, there's some blatant misses. You're kidding me with some of these, right? Oprah didn't really change journalism. Sure, she's powerful, but she's not even a journalist. She made an empire of entertainment and capitalist brainwashing.


Seriously?! Geraldine Laybourne of Oxygen! She basically developed a tit and ass channel for women that women don't watch and don't want (who could have seen that coming?!). The only thing innovative about it is that it concentrates a lot of really offensive advertising in one spot that is easily blocked. There has to be some discussion about what constitutes "women's content". Clearly there is a divide between employing women at a channel and producing something the female audience wants to watch. I am an audience member and I care about the employment of women media executives about as much as they apparently care about my entertainment. Oxygen is in 70 million homes and averages 100,000 viewers a day last I heard and those are probably old men tuning in to watch the cat fight reality and tit and ass advertising. Stations who specialize in selling advertising to men who want feel like they are reaching women should not be classed as "women's content" when they have few women viewers. If women don't watch it it isn't "women's content" regardless of how the men in charge label it.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *