Women succeed in journalism over time despite lack of diversity

The first newspaper was printed in 1690 in Boston, Massachusetts. Printer Benjamin Harris published “Publick Occurrences” without the special leave and license needed and the paper was confiscated and destroyed.

•Less than 100 years later, on January 4, 1739, Elizabeth Timothy became the first female in the American colonies to become the sole publisher of a newspaper. Upon the death of her husband, Timothy took over her husband’s duties at the “South Carolina Gazette.” She would remain in this position for the next seven years before handing the reigns over to her son.

•Anne Newport Royall is usually considered to be the first American newspaper woman. She began her newspaper career in 1831 when she wrote and printed “Paul Pry” from her home. She was 62.

In her pit bull, confrontational style, she wrote against government corruption in Washington. She is credited with being the first woman to interview a president and in fact, interviewed all of them from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln at some point during or after their careers.

In 1837, Sarah Joseph Hale became the literary editor of “Godey’s Lady Book” at the age of 40. Hale lobbied to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and also spoke out against universities for not offering advanced degrees to women.

•The “New York Herald Tribune” offered Margaret Fuller a position in 1846. When she accepted, she became not only the first female staff member for a major daily newspaper, but also the first American female book reviewer. She said “The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.”

•Jennie June was the pseudonym used by Jane Cunningham Croly. In 1854 she began writing a column for the “New York Sunday Times” titled “Parlor and Side-Walk Gossip.” This column earned her the distinction of becoming the first syndicated woman columnist.

•Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864. Her journalism career began when she wrote a letter to the editor of the “Pittsburgh Dispatch” in response to an article. He liked her style and offered her a job. Bly is best known for her trip around the world and for a 10 day, voluntary stay in an insane asylum. Her world trip was in competition with Jules Verne’s book, “Around the World in 80 Days.” She only took 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds.Arthur Brisbane, just days after her death in 1922, said she was “the best reporter in America.”

•Foreign affairs became the fodder for writer Dorothy Thompson. She was the first journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934. She began writing for the “New York Herald Tribune” in 1936. In 1939, she was covered by “Time” magazine and was called “one of the two most influential women in America, second only to First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.” She was given the title “First Lady of Journalism” for her tireless reporting of the realities of Nazism.

•The first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism was Anne O’Hare McCormick in 1937.

These brave women fought for and won their place in the male-dominated world of journalism. Their hard work, dedication and sacrifice is still honored today. With only about 37 percent of journalists being women, the fight continues.