The News Sorority, by Sheila Weller – Review

About the book The News Sorority, by Sheila Weller The News Sorority

A provocative look at the three remarkable women who revolutionized television broadcast news

For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism, until finally three—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour—broke through, definitively remaking America’s nightly news. Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, bestselling author Sheila Weller crafts a lively and eye-opening narrative, revealing the combination of ambition, skill, and character that enabled these three singular women to infiltrate the once impenetrable “boys club” and become cultural icons.

Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a driven, elegant young woman in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and mysterious emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while anchoring the network flagship, ABC World News Tonight.

Katie Couric, always convenient l y 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 New York. In 1991, Couric became the Today show cohost, where over the next fifteen years she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent. Couric’s greatest triumph—and most bedeviling challenge—was inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, as the first woman ever to anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program.

A glamorous but unorthodox cosmopolite— the daughter of a British Catholic mother and Iranian Muslim father—Christiane Amanpour made a virtue of her outsider status. She joined the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then became its “face,” catalyzing its rise to global prominence. Her fearlessness in war zones and before presidents and despots would make her the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice.

The News Sorority takes us behind the scenes as never before to track Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s ascendance to the highest ranks of the media elite, showing that the compelling desire to report the news—a drive born of curiosity, empathy, and humanity—must be matched by guts, awesome competitive fervor, and rare strategic savvy.

My Thoughts

I was offered this book by a publicist who found my blog, probably through some other review campaign, and I leaped at it, because I read Sheila Weller’s previous book Girls Like Us (about women in music) and loved it. I’ve also interviewed her for All Things Girl so, I sort of knew what to expect.

I was not disappointed.

Weller takes us through the lives of three women at the forefront of news media – Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyer – weaving them in and out of each other, and letting us see them as girls, as women, as people, as the faces of the news.

I enjoyed learning more about these women, all of whom I’ve watched since forever, and I also enjoyed Weller’s narrative style. She makes biography read like a novel, and is always candid but seems to make an effort to do so from a place of kindness. You can tell that she may not always agree with her subjects, but she always respects them.

If you want to feel as if you truly know these women, read this book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll never look at television journalism the same way again.