Journalists

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome

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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Jessie Tarbox Beals, America’s First Female Photojournalist

Though Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870 – 1942) wasn’t a literary figure, we also highlight pioneering female journalists here on Literary Ladies Guide, and she was a true trailblazer.

Though Jessie rarely contributed the texts to the news stories she took, she was a storyteller with her camera. As America’s first woman news photographer, she broke many barriers and encouraged other women to follow suit.

Jessie was the first woman to be hired as a staff photographer on a U.S. newspaper and the first American woman to get a byline as a photojournalist. She herself found nothing extraordinary about the pursuit, claiming that photography was a profession that could be mastered by any woman who “has good health, perseverance, and a nose for news.”

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Dorothy Thompson, Trailblazing Correspondent & Broadcaster

Dorothy Thompson (1893 – 1961) used her charm, wit, sense of adventure, and strong work ethic to create an incredibly illustrious career in journalism. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she studied politics and economics at Syracuse University.

>After completing her degree in 1914, a rarity for a woman in her time, she felt an obligation to contribute to the public good. Her cause of choice was the women’s women’s suffrage movement. After women won the right to vote in 1920, she moved to Europe to pursue journalism and became one of America’s first foreign correspondents.

In her heyday, she reported from across the European continent and at the same time enjoyed a fabulous social life. Her circle of friends included many writers and artists as well as some of the most notable journalists in the field. Read More→


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Learning to See: A Novel of Dorothea Lange by Elise Hooper

Dorothea Lange‘s influential photography has been collected and displayed in museums and institutions everywhere, yet few know the story of how Dorothea Nutzhorn became Dorothea Lange, social justice activist and pioneering photojournalist. In Elise Hooper’s much anticipated second novel, Learning to See, Dorothea Lange’s legacy is reimagined in a riveting new light.

In 1918, a fearless 22-year-old arrives in San Francisco with nothing but a friend, her camera, and determination to make her own way as an independent woman. In no time, Dorothea goes from camera shop assistant to celebrated owner of the city’s most prestigious and stylish portrait studio.  Read More→


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In Search of Nellie Bly: America’s Pioneering Investigative Journalist

Excerpted from Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist by Brooke Kroeger, the most comprehensive biography to date on the pioneering investigative journalist, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran (she later spelled her name Cochrane) on May 5, 1864, in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania:

Nellie Bly was one of the most rousing characters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1880s she pioneered the development of “detective” or “stunt” journalism, the acknowledged forerunner of full-scale investigative reporting.

While she was still in her early twenties, the example of her fearless success helped open the profession to coming generations of women journalists clamoring to write hard news. Read More→


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