• The News Sorority

  • Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour - and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News
  • By: Sheila Weller
  • Narrated by: Morgan Hallett
  • Length: 17 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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The News Sorority

By: Sheila Weller
Narrated by: Morgan Hallett
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Publisher's Summary

For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three women - Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour - broke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable “boys’ club”. These women were not simply pathbreakers, but wildly gifted journalists whose unique talents enabled them to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and transform the way Americans received their news.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, The News Sorority crafts a lively and exhilarating narrative that reveals the hard struggles and inner strengths that shaped these women and powered their success. Life outside the newsroom - love, loss, child rearing - would mark them all, complicating their lives even as it deepened their convictions and instincts. Life inside the newsroom would include many nervy decisions and back room power plays previously uncaptured in any media account. Taken together, Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s lives as women are here revealed not as impediments but as keys to their success.

Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a young woman steering her own unique political course in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and sophisticated emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes, to presenting anchoring the network flagship ABC World News. From her first breaks as a reporter all the way through her departure in 2014, Sawyer’s charisma and drive would carry her through countless personal and professional changes.

Katie Couric, always conveniently underestimated because of her “girl-next-door” demeanor, brazened her way through a succession of regional TV news jobs until she finally hit it big. In 1991, Couric became the cohost of Today, where, over the next 15 years, she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent while shouldering devastating personal loss. Couric’s greatest triumph - and most bedeviling challenge - was at CBS Evening News, as the first woman to solo-anchor a nighttime network news program. Her contradictions - seriously feminist while proudly sorority-girlish - made her beyond easy typecasting, and as original as she is relatable.

A glamorous, unorthodox cosmopolite - raised in pre-revolution Iran amid royalty and educated in England - Christiane Amanpour would never have been picked out of a lineup as a future war reporter, until her character flourished on catastrophic soil: Her family’s exile during the Iranian Revolution. Once she knew her calling, Amanpour shrewdly made a virtue of her outsider status, joining the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then becoming its “face,” catalyzing its rise to global prominence. Amanpour’s fearlessness in war zones would make her the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice.

Revealing the tremendous combination of ambition, empathy, and skill that empowered Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour to reach stardom, The News Sorority is a detailed story of three very particular lives and a testament to the extraordinary character of women everywhere.

©2014 Sheila Weller (P)2014 Penguin Group

Critic Reviews

“Weller rivetingly recounts these gutsy ladies' time on the front lines...an inspiration for future generations of journalists.” (Vanity Fair)

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Riveting

In 1971 CBS hired a few women in the newsroom among them were Connie Chung and Lesley Stahl. In 1976 Barbara Walters became the first female anchorwomen. Now there are lots of women news anchors on local T.V. stations and PBS News Hour host the only all women anchor team with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.

The author primarily covers Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour. The author did not have direct access to these news anchors for information. Weller does quote various people from whom she has obtained information but she also has a number of unnamed sources that she quotes.

The author points out the continuing battle women have in the upper echelons of news industry as when Diane Sawyer stepped down as anchor on “ABC World News Tonight she was replaced by a male David Muir. I noted that Sawyer’s husband died shortly after she stepped down. Amanpour lost the anchor on ABC’s This Week in Review and was replaced by a male anchor; they also lost me as a viewer as it was Amanpour that attracted me to the show. Katie Couric was also replaced by a male anchor on CBS.

I must say that I was most impressed with Weller report about Amanpour; I thought she was the most outstanding of the three listed. I have to admire Amanpour’s courage and skill as a war correspondent. After reading about these women and the T.V. news industry one has to admire these women who battled with ratings, network politics, and without a doubt sexist executives, and a chauvinistic industry. The book is fairly long at 17 hours. Morgan Hallett narrated the book.

7 people found this helpful

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Superb - A must for all esp. Women in News Métier

I'm not even done listening. Yet, I'm captivated by this awesome life experiences by three women I greatly admire. Overcame adversity, each in her own life yet so many parallels to be found among them - not to be expected when knowing their background. One women, sadly, whom I admire greatly as well was omitted.... Robin Roberts! I can only suggest to anyone in the news business to get either the book or as I come to prefer - audiobook. My hats off to the exceeding any expectations I had - women!

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Fascinating

Wasn’t sure I’d like at first, but it’s great. I’ve sat in many a parking space or driveway listening until I could find a place to stop. I highly recommend this.

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Very informative

Informative. Nice to learn more about the women newscasters who shaped my world of information every night in my living room. I loved them all. This book seems a little harsh in places and slanted against them just like society apparently. I think Diane sawyer is one of the best news anchors ever. And c amanpour is unbelievably brave with great values.

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Interesting look behind the scenes

I learned a lot about these ladies and the news business. Their strength in the face of sexism in the news business is admirable. The competitive nature of the business brings out the tigress in all of them. I will never look at the news the same!

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Enjoyed The News Sorority

This book was very enjoyable, it contains a multitude of revelations and information.The background of some of them world events that were covered by the ladies may be be very surprising to you, it was to me. The inner workings of TV news and the anchors that host the news astonished me. The book even covers some celebrity personalities and foibles. What more could you want. 😊

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An insightful and poignant look at 3 of titans of broadcasting

A very interesting read. The book profiles these women in a very fair way, displaying their strengths and very real human flaws. While also highlighting the hurdles these women overcame in a male dominated industry. I wasn’t as familiar with Christiane’s life and career but the book does a great job profiling each woman from their earliest pre-TV years. Highly recommend.