Five 21st-century female journalists who changed political journalism

Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Hillary Clinton has broken ground by becoming the first woman to earn the presidential nomination of a major political party.

However, Clinton isn’t the only woman in politics making headlines these days; in fact, there are hundreds of women in political journalism who are literally making headlines and influencing how we understand this year’s election.

The 21st century has seen monumental strides by women in all industries, but during the last decade and a half, several female journalists have actually changed what and how politics is reported. This post celebrates five of the most influential female political journalists of our time.

1. Barbara Ehrenreich
Barbara Ehrenreich: Image by David Shankbone from Flickr.com

Self-described as an author, a journalist, an activist, and a scientist, Barbara Ehrenreich has done much to influence reporting in her decades on the job.

Though Ehrenreich has been making waves in politics and political journalism since the 1980s, her 2001 book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” has garnered the most attention. Detailing Ehrenreich’s attempts to survive on minimum wage jobs ― as at least 3 million Americans do every day ― the book exposes the nearly unbelievable conditions of the working poor.

 

In an age when investigative journalism might die out in favor of attention-grabbing sensationalism, Ehrenreich’s works returned the spotlight to issues that average Americans often forget. Her efforts have kept politicians and journalists accountable to facts and focused on improving the quality of life for all Americans ― not just the rich ones.

2. Dana Perino

Though some would hesitate to call Dana Perino a journalist in the strictest sense, her work in political communication certainly earns her a spot on this list. Only the second woman to hold the vital position of White House Press Secretary (after the Clinton administration’s Dee Dee Myers), Perino was responsible for drafting briefings of White House opinion and action during the later years of the Bush Administration ― between 2007 and 2009.

During this period, President Bush polled the lowest approval ratings of his political career, and some of the lowest ever recorded for an acting president. Thus, Perino was forced to perform language gymnastics to convince the press and the American public of Bush’s competency and care. Afterwards, Perino became a political commentator, forming a growing cohort of politicians-turned-journalists with invaluable insight into the inner workings of the political sphere.

3. Jane Mayer

Breaking ground since the 1980s, when she became the first female White House correspondent for a rag called The Wall Street Journal, Jane Mayer is a foundational political journalist for our age. During her tenure at various publications, Mayer has reported on wars, foreign politics, domestic scandals, and more; in fact, she has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize.

In the 21st century, Mayer has continued her non-partisan attack on shady politics, encouraging fellow journalists to dig deeper and question further even popular figures in American politics. Her 2008 book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals” exposes the problematic tactics employed by the Bush Administration during the War on Terror, and critics around the country praised it for shedding light on the dishonest and dangerous practices performed behind closed doors. Today, Mayer, pursues injustice in Obama’s administration and both candidates’ campaigns, making strides toward more honest and safe politics.

Margaret Hoover image by Gage Skidmore from Flicker.com
Margaret Hoover: Image by Gage Skidmore from Flicker.com
4. Margaret Hoover

The Republican Party can sometimes seem old and out of date, but Margaret Hoover, an author and political commentator featured in dozens of publications, is doing her best to change that. Hoover is not a new member of the conservative party; she has been integral to the campaigns and administrations to many prominent republicans, including President George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani.

However, Hoover is devoted to modernising the party, and in every media appearance, she makes sure to voice her relatively progressive views in a balanced and astute manner. Thanks to Hoover’s rational reporting ― as well as the off-putting circus-like atmosphere of the current GOP campaign ― most political forecasters believe the Republican party, including politicians and journalists, will behave more respectably in the future.

5. Sabrina Siddiqui

Representing the new generation of reporters, Sabrina Siddiqui is young ― in her 20s! ― and passionate about politics, which allows her to be everywhere at once. Using social media and unending energy reserves, Siddiqui is constantly reporting on the movements of nearly every political candidate, making her a must-watch for this election and undoubtedly those to come. Siddiqui demonstrates that modern political journalism requires tenacity and vigor ― especially in an election year.

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