Authors: Kerrie Logan Hollihan
artha Gellhorn jumped at the chance to fly from Hong Kong to Lashio to report firsthand for
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
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 Â© 2014 by Kerrie L. Hollihan
All rights reserved
Published by Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
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. â First edition.
Â Â Â Â pages cm. â (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 womanâincluding 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 Armyâexperiences 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”âProvided by publisher.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-61374-710-0 (hardback)
1. Women journalistsâUnited StatesâBiographyâJuvenile literature. 2. War photographersâUnited StatesâBiographyâJuvenile literature 3. Women photographersâUnited StatesâBiographyâJuvenile literature I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
5 4 3 2 1
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 tellingâand rememberingâthough 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.
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 exposÃ©, 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
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
, 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 writingâlike a man's, in factâappalled 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 dispatchesâ lettersâfrom 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
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.