The News Sorority

The News Sorority

Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News

Format
Hardcover
 
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781594204272
  • 496  Pages
  • Penguin Press

Overview

Weller rivetingly recounts these gutsy ladies’ time on the front lines…  an inspiration for future generations of journalists.” Vanity Fair

For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three women—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour—broke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable “boys’ club.” These extraordinary women were not simply pathbreakers, but wildly gifted journalists whose unique talents—courage and empathy, competitive drive and strategic poise—enabled them to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and transform the way Americans received their news.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, The News Sorority crafts a lively and exhilarating narrative that reveals the hard struggles and inner strengths that shaped these women and powered their success. Life outside the newsroom—love, loss, child rearing—would mark them all, complicating their lives even as it deepened their convictions and instincts. Life inside the newsroom would include many nervy decisions and back room power plays previously uncaptured in any media account. Taken together, Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s lives as women are here revealed not as impediments but as keys to their success.

Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a young woman steering her own unique political course in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and sophisticated emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes, to early on interviewing the likes of Boris Yeltsin and Michael Jackson, to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while anchoring the network flagship ABC World News. From her first breaks as a reporter all the way through her departure in 2014, Sawyer’s charisma and drive would carry her through countless personal and professional changes.

Katie Couric, always conveniently underestimated because of her “girl-next-door” demeanor, brazened her way through a succession of regional TV news jobs until she finally hit it big. In 1991, Couric became the tremen-dously popular cohost of Today, where, over the next fifteen years, she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent while shouldering devastating personal loss and launching an audacious and lifesaving public health campaign. Couric’s greatest triumph—and most bedeviling challenge—was inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, as the first woman to solo-anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program. Through it all, her contradictions—she’s wry and sarcastic yet sensitive; seriously feminist while proudly sorority-girlish—made her beyond easy typecasting, and as original as she is relatable.

A glamorous, unorthodox cosmopolite—the daughter of a British Catholic mother and an Iranian Muslim father, raised in pre-revolution Iran amid royalty and educated in England—Christiane Amanpour was an elite, wily, charis¬matic convent-school girl who would never have been picked out of a lineup as a future war reporter, until her character flourished on catastrophic soil: her family’s exile during the Iranian Revolution. Once she knew her calling, Amanpour shrewdly made a virtue of her outsider status, joining the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then becoming its “face,” catalyzing its rise to global prominence. Amanpour’s fearlessness in war zones, and before presidents and despots, would make her the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice.

Revealing the tremendous combination of ambition, empathy, and skill that empowered Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour to reach stardom, The News Sorority is at once a detailed story of three very particular lives and a testament to the extraordinary character of women everywhere.

Praise

Vanity Fair:
Weller rivetingly recounts these gutsy ladies’ time on the front lines of domestic and international war zones, political battlefields, and live morning television; the prejudices they’ve faced; the personal sacrifices made and losses suffered, as well as the backlashes that followed their every gain, fueling their ambition and building their resilience. Weller’s portrait of how these extraordinary women, in the words of Sawyer, turn “pain into purpose” is an inspiration for future generations of journalists.”

Kirkus Reviews:
“As she did in her fluid multitiered biography Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon—and the Journey of Generation, Weller takes apart feminist icons of her generation—those who came of age in the 1960s and ’70s—to see how they work and how they made it to prime time. Inspiring bios of today’s professional heroines.”

Booklist:
“Best-selling author Weller draws on interviews with their friends and colleagues to offer portraits of the will and ambition each mustered to achieve iconic status. Weller details the personal tragedies they’ve dealt with… [and] also explores the unique personalities of these women and the set expectations among broadcast executives and viewers that they have had to overcome.”
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