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Inside the Upheaval of Journalism

Reporters Look Back on 50 Years of Covering the News

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Edited By Ted Gest and Dotty Brown

In the spring of 1969, 101 students received master’s degrees from Columbia University’s prestigious School of Journalism, where they had learned the trade as it was then practiced. Most hoped to start a career in newspapers, radio, television or magazines, the established forms of journalism of that era. Little did they realize how the news world they were entering would be upended by the internet and by the social forces that would sweep through the country over the next 50 years.

This book tells the story of the news media revolution through the eyes of those in the Class of 1969 who lived it and helped make it happen. It is an insider’s look at the reshaping of the Fourth Estate and the information Americans now get and don’t get—crucial aspects of the vibrancy of democracy.

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Chapter Three Women: Forging Towards Recognition

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Women: Forging Towards Recognition

DOTTY BROWN

As the 38 women of Columbia University’s School of Journalism went job hunting in the spring of 1969, we were upbeat about our prospects. Newspapers were thriving, with circulation on the rise. That year, news companies sold nearly 50 million papers every Sunday, raking in $5.7 billion in advertising revenue. Over the next 35 years, revenue for these “cash cows,” as newspapers were called, would continue climbing.1

Young reporters with journalism degrees were in high demand as a veteran generation of newspaper staffers was retiring. Almost all of them were men, more notable for their ability to write than their academic credentials. With the women’s movement gathering strength (the National Organization for Women was three years old), newsrooms seemed poised to finally crack open their doors for women.

Nonetheless, my J-School classmate Amy Stone, who was seeking a job in TV broadcasting, believes gender bias thwarted her first efforts to find work after graduation. Besides her prestigious new Columbia University Master’s Degree in journalism, she had worked as a reporter already, something that many of the 101 students in the J-School Class of 1969 had not done. Yet the manager of an educational TV station in Scranton, Pennsylvania instead hired her classmate, David Platt, a college history major with no journalism experience.2

Stone also futilely sought work on the West Coast with King Broadcasting in Seattle. “I was interviewed for a newsroom job by...

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