“Ladies of the Black Press” — Five Inspiring Midcentury Journalists

African-American women journalists whose careers were in full force in the mid-twentieth century came to be known as the “Ladies of the Black Press.” Here are five of these inspiring women, who worked in various capacities of journalism in this era, including reporting, editing, broadcasting, and publishing.

Since its first seed was planted in the 1820s, the American Black Press has promoted social justice and equality. The women journalists of the mid-twentieth century that will be highlighted here stood on the shoulders of two powerful trailblazers — Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Read More→

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The Stunt Girls — 3 Fearless American Pioneers of Investigative Journalism

When you think of undercover reporting, what comes to mind? I have to admit that the image that came to my mind was some guy in a trench coat, wearing a fedora. That is, until I learned about the group of late nineteenth and early twentieth century reporters referred to as “stunt girls.”

These intrepid young women, following in the footsteps of Nelly Bly, pioneered the practice of underground investigative reporting in journalism.

Good journalism has always been about presenting the human story behind events large and small. It’s also about holding the powerful accountable for their actions, a cornerstone of democracy (at least in theory). Women have always had the desire, talent, and ability to participate in these endeavors. Read More→

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4 Fearless American Female Newspaper Publishers of the 1800s

For a small number of American female journalist-reformers of the 1800s, starting their own newspapers became a matter of necessity. Refused the opportunity to report on matters of importance by male-dominated mainstream newspapers, they took matters into their own hands.

Launching their own newspapers became platforms for raising awareness of the justice issues they fought for.

Anne Newport Royall, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and Jovita Idár are no longer familiar names; Ida B. Wells (pictured above right) might be better known to those interested in African-American history. But all deserve to be better known and deserve a place of honor as publisher-reformers in an era when women’s voices were more often silenced than heard. Read More→

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3 Trailblazing Women Sports Journalists: Ina Louise Young, Mary Garber, and Anita Martini

The story of women in American journalism has a common thread: From Colonial times on, women have fought for the right to report. That was (and still remains) especially true for women sports journalists, including this trio of trailblazers: Ina Louise Young, Mary Garber (at right), and Anita Martini.

Sports journalism seems like the final frontier because there have been more women reporting from the battlefield than from the playing field. Consider that during World War II, there were about 140 accredited female war correspondents. That’s not a huge number, but still eclipses the handful of female sports reporters working at the time. Read More→

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The Power of Her Pen: Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne

The story of Ethel L. Payne (1911 – 1991), the American journalist and correspondent, is a portrait of persistence, passion, and determination. Award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome has told her story in an inspiring book for younger readers. We’ll get to that after a brief introduction to Ethel Payne’s life and work.

Ethel grew up in a working-class African-American family in Chicago.  She was a diligent student and avid reader, and showed an early interest in writing.

Pursuing the dream of becoming a reporter was no small feat for a black woman of Ethel’s era. A trailblazer from the start, she set her own path, which began in Washington, D.C. during World War II and in post-war Japan. Her experiences in both places shaped her as a journalist and activist. Read More→

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