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Weller rivetingly recounts these gutsy ladies’ time on the front lines. . . . An inspiration for future generations of journalists.” Vanity Fair
For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three womenDiane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpourbroke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable boys’ club.” These extraordinary women were not simply pathbreakers, but wildly gifted journalists whose unique talentscourage and empathy, competitive drive and strategic poiseenabled 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 newsroomlove, loss, child rearingwould mark them all, complicating their lives even as it deepened their convictions and instincts. Life inside the newsroom would include many nervy decisions and backroom 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 interviewing the likes of Boris Yeltsin and Michael Jackson to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while 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 tremendously popular cohost of Today, where, over the next fifteen years, she transformed the female” slot from secondary to preeminent while shouldering devastating personal loss and launching an audacious and lifesaving public health campaign. Couric’s greatest triumphand most bedeviling challengewas inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, while becoming the first woman to solo-anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program. Through it all, her contradictionsshe’s wry and sarcastic, yet sensitive; seriously feminist, while proudly sorority-girlishmade her beyond easy typecasting and as original as she is relatable.
A glamorous, unorthodox cosmopolitethe daughter of a British Catholic mother and an Iranian Muslim father, raised in prerevolution Iran amid royalty and educated in EnglandChristiane Amanpour was an elite, wily, charismatic convent-school girl who 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, 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.
Revealing the tremendous combination of ambition, empathy, and skill that empowered Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour to reach stardom, The News Sorority is at once a detailed story of three very particular lives and a testament to the extraordinary character of women everywhere.
Sheila Weller is a contributor to Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, and Glamour and his written for many other magazines, winning numerous awards for her journalism. She lives in New York City.