Book explores womens’ struggles in male-dominant workplace

ASU professors Kristen Gilger and Julia Wallace have coauthored a book on women leading in newsrooms. —Photo courtesy Christopher Fiscus

By Christopher Fiscus

A new book by two Arizona State University professors chronicles the rise of women in America’s newsrooms and lessons about what it takes to lead in a traditionally male-dominated industry that has been rocked by the #MeToo movement.

“There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned about What It Takes to Lead” was released by Rowman & Littlefield publishing company. The book combines history, narrative storytelling and management advice, written by two women who were themselves pioneering newsroom leaders.

Kristin Gilger served in various editing roles at newspapers in Louisiana, Oregon and Arizona before coming to ASU, where she is senior associate dean and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Her co-author, Julia Wallace, the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism at Cronkite, was the first female editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and served in top editing roles at USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Arizona Republic.

The two interviewed nearly 100 women about their experiences as they moved into the management ranks of newsrooms. The book includes interviews with Christiane Amanpour, Nina Totenberg, Judy Woodruff and other household names, but many of the women featured work behind the scenes, running newsrooms and making news decisions for the nation’s largest newspapers, network television, public radio and digital news outlets.

Some started at a time when women were largely relegated to jobs as editorial assistants, fact checkers and news secretaries, yet managed to rise to top editorial positions.

“We tell the story of Marcy McGinnis at CBS, who started out as a secretary serving Dan Rather coffee and eventually became his boss and the number-two person at CBS News,” Wallace said.

“She and the many women who broke down barriers in newsrooms have remarkable stories to tell about what it took for them to get ahead.”

Women entering newsrooms – or any organization dominated by men – still face many of the same challenges today, Gilger said. They struggle to find acceptable leadership styles, balance work and family, navigate workplace culture and ward off sexual harassment. “It’s remarkable how many of these issues are just as prevalent today as they were when Julia and I were coming up in newsrooms,” she said.

At the end of each chapter, the authors draw lessons from the experiences of the women they interviewed and offer some of their own experiences and perspective.

“We wanted to offer a bridge between the generations,” Gilger said. “There is much that these pioneering women have to offer to young women who are just beginning their careers.”

In the foreword to the book, Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships at Facebook and a former reporter and anchor at CNN and NBC, writes, “Over the past four decades, scores of women have walked into newsrooms only to find they were unwanted and unsupported and, still, they worked their way to the top.

Until now, their stories have gone largely unreported. There’s No Crying in Newsrooms captures the voices of these funny, strong, and brash women who learned—often the hard way—exactly what it takes for women to lead, not just in the news business, but in any business.”

Gilger and Wallace will visit universities around the country this fall to talk about the book.

They also will make appearances at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., at several journalism and women’s leadership conferences, and at numerous independent bookstores around the country.

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