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Battling for news cover

Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter


Women have been reporting news for the last hundred and fifty years but not always on equal terms with men. Journalism has long been one of the few professions offering an educated woman a chance to earn her living using her intellect and travel to far away places . But women have had to fight for a chance to report many stories especially from the battlefields . The excuse, even now trotted out for not allowing women to go to war, is ‘lack of facilities.’ But the newspapers and their editors have often been to blame for sexist attitudes, despatching female reporters specifically to write about the woman’s angle of a news story. With the advent of television some news editors have been accused of deliberately sending attractive women in flak jackets off to war because they know this is what viewers like to see.

From sister or wife taken for the ride in Victorian times and grudgingly allowed to file an occasional story, this book recounts the exciting development of the woman reporter. It shows how the break through came on the eve of World War Two with mould breakers like Clare Hollingworth, Virginia Cowles and Martha Gellhorn and it ends with the television reporters of whom the best known is Kate Adie of the BBC. She has been plunged into almost all the world’s trouble spots during the last ten years. Today there are few if any stories that women do not report including politics and even sport, the last bastion to fall. In this absorbing book, now required reading for many university media studies courses, Anne Sebba, herself a former Reuters reporter, asks whether women were too emotional in their reporting or if they took unfair advantage of their male colleagues to get a story. Did they, in wartime, merely report the ‘soft’ news stories about hospitals and orphanages or were these in fact the ‘hard’ stories of war which men once avoided in the mania for the cut and thrust of battle but which are now accepted as the real War stories. In this book, Anne Sebba evaluates the claim of many women reporters that being a female is a positive advantage in eliciting the truth. Today with as many female war reporters as male the entire agenda of war reporting has changed.

You can buy this book on the Faber Find’s’s website

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