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Authors: Kerrie Logan Hollihan

Reporting Under Fire

BOOK: Reporting Under Fire

artha Gellhorn jumped at the chance to fly from Hong Kong to Lashio to report firsthand for
Collier's Weekly
on the conflict between China and Japan. When she boarded the “small tatty plane” she was handed “a rough brown blanket and a brown paper bag for throwing up.” The flight took 16 hours, stopping to refuel twice, and was forced to dip and bob through Japanese occupied airspace.

Reporting Under Fire
tells readers about women who, like Gellhorn, risked their lives to bring back scoops from the front lines. Margaret Bourke-White rode with Patton's Third Army and brought back the first horrific photos of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Marguerite Higgins typed stories while riding in the front seat of an American jeep that was fleeing the North Korean Army. And during the Guatemalan civil war, Georgie Anne Geyer had to evade an assassin sent by the right-wing
Mano Blanco,
seeking revenge for her reports of their activities.

These 16 remarkable profiles illuminate not only the inherent danger in these reporters' jobs, but also their struggle to have these jobs at all. Without exception, these war correspondents share a singular ambition: to answer an inner call driving them to witness war firsthand, and to share what they learn via words or images.

Copyright © 2014 by Kerrie L. Hollihan

All rights reserved

First edition

Published by Chicago Review Press, Incorporated

814 North Franklin Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610

ISBN 978-1-61374-710-0

Cover and interior design: Sarah Olson

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hollihan, Kerrie Logan.

Reporting under fire : 16 daring women war correspondents and photojournalists / Kerrie Logan Hollihan. — First edition.

    pages cm. — (Women of action)

Summary: “The tremendous struggles women have faced as war correspondents and photojournalists A profile of 16 courageous women, Reporting Under Fire tells the story of journalists who risked their lives to bring back scoops from the front lines. Each woman—including Sigrid Schultz, who broadcast news via radio from Berlin on the eve of the Second World War; Margaret Bourke-White, who rode with General George Patton's Third Army and brought back the first horrific photos of the Buchenwald concentration camp; and Marguerite Higgins, who typed stories while riding in the front seat of an American jeep that was fleeing the North Korean Army—experiences her own journey, both personally and professionally, and each draws her own conclusions. Yet without exception, these war correspondents share a singular ambition: to answer an inner call driving them to witness war firsthand, and to share what they learn via words or images”—Provided by publisher.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-61374-710-0 (hardback)

1. Women journalists—United States—Biography—Juvenile literature. 2. War photographers—United States—Biography—Juvenile literature 3. Women photographers—United States—Biography—Juvenile literature I. Title.

PN4872.H65 2014




Printed in the United States of America

5 4 3 2 1


A Note to Readers

Introduction: The Race to Be First

1: World War I, 1914–1918

Henrietta Goodnough, aka Peggy Hull,
Reporting from El Paso, Paris, and Vladivostok

Louise Bryant, Bessie Beatty, and Rheta Childe Dorr,
Reporting from Petrograd

Helen Johns Kirtland,
Reporting from France

2: Between World Wars, 1920–1939

Irene Corbally Kuhn,
Reporting from Shanghai

Sigrid Schultz,
Reporting from Berlin

Dorothy Thompson,
Reporting from Berlin

3: A Second World War, 1939–1945

Martha Gellhorn,
Reporting from Madrid, Chungking, and Normandy

Margaret Bourke-White,
Reporting from Moscow, Tunis, and Buchenwald

4: A Cold War, 1945–1989

Marguerite Higgins,
Reporting from Dachau and Seoul

5: Ancient Peoples, Modern Wars, 1955–1985

Gloria Emerson,
Reporting from Paris and Saigon

Georgie Anne Geyer,
Reporting from Havana, Guatemala City, Tbilisi, and Baghdad

6: A Challenge That Never Ends, 1990–Present

Janine di Giovanni,
Reporting from Sarajevo and Kosovo

Robin Wright,
Reporting from Ann Arbor, Angola, Beirut, and Cairo

Martha Raddatz,
Reporting from the Pentagon, White House, Baghdad, and Kabul





A Note to Readers

When my daughter was a junior at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, someone wrote a lovely quote on a poster during pep week. It was from Judy Garland, a film star and singer who first captured Americans' hearts as Dorothy in
The Wizard of Oz
back in 1939. It said: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

I think that's excellent advice, and Garland's words came to me as I was putting the finishing touches on this book. In looking over the profiles I'd researched and written over nearly a year, I was struck by how each of these women is (or was) so much her authentic self. Of course, times have changed, as they always do, and the “girl reporter” like Peggy Hull, who was ordered to write a womanly slant on war stories, has been replaced by the likes of Martha Raddatz, who has jumped from a helicopter when her job demanded it.

As individuals, these women were as different as could be. Some of them were better at digging out information than at
writing it; others were or are gifted writers. Some were fiercely left-wing, some kept to the middle, and others wore their conservatism proudly. Some treasured their privacy, while others were quite flamboyant. Beyond one or two, you've probably never read their names, though several were celebrities in their day. Their stories are worth telling—and remembering—though most of these women have come and gone since the first were born in the 1880s.

There is so much truth in these women's stories, and it's not just the truth they told in the articles they wrote and the photographs they took. To read their letters, their books and memoirs, and their reporting is to share in their personal journeys of truth and self-discovery. In the process of putting their stories on paper, I discovered that, like a first love, there was a “first war” for each, a time for truth-telling both inside and out. For the most part, I've focused on that piece of their lives.

The Race to Be First

n the news business there's long been a race to be first, the classic contest among rival media to “scoop” the competition. In the 1800s and first half of the 1900s, when the scooper happened to be a woman, that made news, too. In 1887, a brash young reporter named Elizabeth Cochrane managed to get herself committed to an insane asylum on New York's Blackwell's Island, a living hell for its mentally ill inmates. Ten days later she emerged and wrote about her experiences under the pen name “Nellie Bly” for the
New York World
. She had scooped every other New York paper with her outrageous exposé, and the
loudly paraded her as its “stunt girl.” Nellie Bly became America's first big name among investigative journalists who wore dresses to work.

Historians of American journalism have ferreted out more women “firsts.” Among them were the first woman to publish
a newspaper (Elizabeth Timothy of the
South Carolina Gazette,
1759); the first to publish the full, official Declaration of Independence (Mary Katherine Goddard of the
Maryland Journal,
1777); the first woman to edit a national magazine (Sarah Josepha Hale of
Godey's Ladies Book,
1836); and the first woman editor at a daily newspaper (Cornelia Walter of the
Boston Transcript
, 1842). The outspoken Anne Newport Royall, a rabble-rouser and writer during the 1820s and '30s, probably holds the claim as the nation's first official woman reporter.

Historians also have looked back to decide who could be called America's first woman war correspondent. She was probably Margaret Fuller, a rare bird among women in the years before the American Civil War. Fuller was a full-fledged intellectual and free thinker. Her remarkable writing—like a man's, in fact—appalled many men who dominated America's literary circles. But she had her male admirers too, and one, a newspaper editor named Horace Greeley, hired her to send dispatches— letters—from Europe as she witnessed the Italian revolution in 1847. In the process, Fuller found love and had a child with an Italian count. All three perished when their ship sank just offshore as they returned to the United States.

Margaret Fuller, a philosopher and woman of letters, was probably America's first woman war correspondent.
Library of Congress LC-USZ62-47039

World traveler Elizabeth Cochrane, “Nellie Bly,” was heralded as a stunt reporter for the
New York World. Library of Congress LC-USZ62-59924

There were others. During the Civil War, a Southern woman known to the world only as “Joan” left her home to be near her son, a Confederate soldier in Virginia. To support herself, Joan wrote for the
Charleston Courier,
her pen name a protection because well-bred ladies weren't supposed to dirty themselves with work. In the North, Jane Swisshelm owned her own newspaper in Minnesota before the Civil War and was said to have reported on events as she nursed Union soldiers near Washington, DC.

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