Barbara Walters, Maria Elena Salinas, Linda Ellerbee, Connie Chung, Jane Pauley, Gwen Ifill, Marlene Sanders, Katie Couric, Vivian Brown, and Lesley Stahl share stories of their accomplishments in the field of broadcast journalism


Since 1997, the Television Academy Foundation’s The Interviews: An Oral History of Television (formerly the Archive of American Television) has been conducting in-depth, videotaped oral history interviews with television professionals, including actors, writers, editors, and journalists. These interviews explore the lives and careers of the interviewees, and often touch on important historical moments and movements.

Gathered here are stories from interviewees who blazed the trail for women in broadcast journalism, and who continue to break new ground today.

Barbara Walters talks about breaking barriers as a female journalist, and shares advice she gives to women aspiring to follow in her footsteps:

“I say, 'Just work harder than everybody.' And you’re not going to get it by whining and you’re not going to get it by shoving, and you’re not going to get it by quitting. You’re going to get it by being there."

Watch Barbara Walters’ full interview to hear the stories behind her legendary career.

Journalist Maria Elena Salinas shares the challenges she has faced as a female journalist, as well as Latina woman in the industry, and describes her attitude when confronted with discrimination and other barriers:

"I think the way to combat that is to actually do the work and show through your work and through your actions that you are a human being and capable of doing a job.”

Watch Maria Elena Salinas’ full interview where she discusses her career as a journalist and her role as an anchor at Univision.

Journalist Linda Ellerbee shares her thoughts about how women’s place in the industry has changed since the 1970s, and gives this anecdote as to how female journalists used the sexist rules of the day to their advantage:

"When I went to work covering the Congress for NBC News, I wore a blazer and a shirt and blue jeans and sneakers...because there was a lot of running around the Capitol and all of those office buildings to chase these Congressmen. ...Why was I able to do it? I was able to do it because there was a code of conduct in the United States Congress that said the men had to wear coats and ties to cover the Congress. Since no one had ever anticipated that women would be covering the Congress, there was no dress code for women.”

Watch Linda Ellerbee's full interview where she discusses the entirety of her career, from her early days as a writer to her children’s news show Nick News.

Connie Chung describes her early career ambition: to become an on-air reporter, and how a push by CBS to hire more women in the 1970s helped her to fulfill this dream. She was hired, along with three other women, though the hiring of women did not go much beyond them:

"It was four permutations and combinations, and CBS was done. And that’s the way it was for a few years, before they hired more women. But, the push was so strong at that time. I think I can thank the Women’s Movement for getting me on board."

Watch Connie Chung’s full interview to hear her tell the stories behind her groundbreaking career.

Jane Pauley shares her thoughts on being a female journalist, and in particular, the significance of being a highly visible working mother in the 1980s:

"I don’t think it diminishes me or my career to say that my contribution to journalism was being pregnant and having children on camera.”

Watch Jane Pauley’s full interview to hear the stories behind her legendary career.

Journalist Gwen Ifill shares the changes she made to PBS’s Washington Week when she came on as the moderator, and makes note of the many firsts she represented when taking on the job:

"I was the first woman to ever moderate the program. First African-American. Probably the youngest person to ever moderate the program."

Watch Gwen Ifill's full interview where she talks about her journey from The Baltimore Evening Sun to PBS NewsHour.

News Correspondent/Anchor Marlene Sanders tells the story of being the first woman to anchor an evening news program, which she did for one night in 1964, and shares her thoughts on why it took so long for a woman to become permanent anchor of an evening news broadcast (which happened with Katie Couric in 2006):

"Maybe they thought only men watched the evening news and that they would somehow not take a woman seriously….It took the Women’s Movement to get women into responsible, decision-making, prominent positions and certainly broadcasting is… going to wait till it’s safe. So, I guess they finally feel in 2006 that it’s safe."

Watch Marlene Sanders’ full interview, which spans her career from anchor to news producer to executive.

Katie Couric shares the changes she hoped to make when she became anchor of CBS Evening News, as well as what she hoped having a female anchor would show the country:

"I wanted people to see a female newscaster on the evening news and say, 'Yeah, that’s normal, that’s not a novelty, this isn’t a first, this is acceptable.' Women are more than half of the population, and newscasters and on-air reporters, they should look like America. And white men, they’re just one part of the country. They don’t represent all of us.”

Watch Katie Couric’s full interview to hear the stories behind her legendary career.

Meteorologist Vivian Brown shares her thoughts on being a female meteorologist and how she has dealt with the subjective nature of the news business (using the comparison to her earlier experiences in sports):

"I was being judged on whether I crossed the finish line first or not. And if I didn’t, I automatically knew I was not the best. … But then when you’re judged on someone else’s opinions, whose opinion of course is based on their background, is based on their perceptions, is based on their mentality, based on their upbringing. Then it’s a whole different ball game."

Watch Vivian Brown’s full interview to hear the stories behind her years at The Weather Channel, and more.

News Anchor/Correspondent Lesley Stahl tells the story of being hired by CBS early in her career, and the extra scrutiny she received as a female journalist:

"I remember smiling in a story. A smile was appropriate, but my direct boss at that point didn’t think women should smile, so I was made to go out and redo the on-camera without the smile....I think he genuinely felt, and he wasn’t wrong, that women had to work a little harder to convey a sense of authority and that that little smile wasn’t doing it. Now, it could have been my particular smile or the smile in that piece, but nevertheless I was told not to smile."

Watch Lesley Stahl’s full interview, which spans her career from her time as a White House correspondent, to moderator of Face the Nation, to correspondent on 60 Minutes.

Credits: Story

The Television Academy Foundation's The Interviews: An Oral History of Television

Jenni Matz, Director
Adrienne Faillace, Producer
Jenna Hymes, Manager & Exhibit curator
Nora Bates, Production Coordinator
John Dalton, Cataloguer
Video editing by the Pop Culture Passionistas, sisters Amy and Nancy Harrington, who have made a career based on their love of pop culture.

Credits: All media
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