FROM A WOMAN'S POINT OF VIEW
LINDA WERTHEIMER, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO'S POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WAS A child when she watched Pauline Frederick's broadcasts about Soviet troops crushing the revolution in Hungary in 1956. She found herself thinking, "Look! A woman can do news!" Her surprise is understandable. Women have always been a part of American journalism, first as printers and later as reporters, editors, and occasionally as publishers, but only recently have substantial numbers of women broken into the traditionally male areas of covering politics, government, or international affairs. Women journalists have worked in a male- dominated milieu and may have experienced discrimination, so they are likely to understand what women politicians are up against. Women journalists may perceive women politicians differently from their male colleagues, be more sensitive to issues of concern to women, and be more aware of sexual bias in language. And women journalists may place topics on the news agenda that might not otherwise receive attention -- just as women politicians sometimes do.
"It makes a tremendous difference at all levels" because women see and experience things differently from men, says Mary Leonard, the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief. Geraldine Brooks, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, agrees that women journalists often take a different approach than men. She, for example, originated the idea for a 1993 Journal story examining why there's never been a woman president of the United States -- and then successfully argued for its placement on page 1.
Women journalists are sometimes more tuned in to women politicians, former Texas governor Ann Richards says. "Women reporters pick up on body language and nuance, not just what you say but how you say it. They're much more sensitive to that." Richards says she was often more candid with women reporters because she trusted them not to reveal off-the-record information, though some male reporters also earned her trust. At least one academic study