Academic journal article Journalism History

NewsLady

Academic journal article Journalism History

NewsLady

Article excerpt

Simpson, Carole. NewsLady. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2011. 298 pp. $28.

Carole Simpson's memoir about her thirty-five-year career in American news broadcasting is a frank and revealing look at how arduous it was for talent and tenacity to overcome racism and sexism in a profession that she found both glamorous and gritty.

Simpson, by her account an ambitious young woman fired with a passion for journalism, ran head-on into institutional bias even before she entered college. Northwestern University's Medili School of Journalism turned her down, telling her that because "you're a Negro and female" would disqualify her from being hired by the newspapefs in her hometown for which she aspired to work: the Chicago Tribune or the Sun Times. She was accepted to the University of Michigan's journalism program but was the only one of sixty graduating seniors (she was also the only student of color in the group) unable to find a job after graduation. Her eventual distinguished career stemmed from her determination not to be stopped by prejudice - and plenty more followed as she made her way from local radio to local television to national, network television.

Simpson says that sexism was more of a problem for her than racism, but together they constituted a powerful double whammy. Her race and gender were advantages in some situations, but her memoir makes it clear that the negatives outweighed the positives. Sexual harassment had not yet been defined, or made illegal, in 1962 when she started hef first job as a journalism instiuctof at Tuskegee Institute, and her boss tried to rape her. Her memoir mentions many professional situations that involved sexual come-ons and crude comments. Some of these came from viewers as well, to whose letters she devotes a chapter.

Simpson was the victim of hazing at her first job in radio. As miserable as this made her, it toughened her, too. As hef abilities became better known, and she moved up the ranks of the news business, she became a vocal advocate for women and minorities, a stance that brought admiration from those for whom she spoke up but which did not endear her to management. As usual, this did not stop her; she added to her advocacy inside rhe networks by taking it outside as a founding member of the International Women's Media Foundation. …

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