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The News Sorority by Sheila Weller

The News Sorority

The News Sorority by Sheila Weller
Ebook
Sep 30, 2014 | 496 Pages
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    Sep 30, 2014 | 496 Pages

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Praise

Kera Bolonik, The New York Times Book Review
“… it’s hard to come away from The News Sorority feeling anything less than admiration, if not reverence, for Couric, Sawyer and Amanpour, and sympathy for all the women… who had to wrangle with ratings, network politics and defiantly sexist executives, while managing the delicate egos of their male counterparts. And that is, in the words of the old CBS slogan, ‘very good news.’”

Geneva Overholser, Los Angeles Times
“…a well-reported and refreshingly fair-minded biography of these gutsy and influential newswomen. Given the complexity of the subject matter, the remarkable thing is that Weller has produced a book that manages to be both compelling and resolutely evenhanded. Even when the catnip of rivalry raises its hoary head, Weller chooses balance. There are lots of controversies, but they usually come along with opposing opinions from different observers and in a broader context.”

The Washington Post
“It’s worth reading The News Sorority as both a handbook of cutthroat office politics and a cautionary tale. These women brought ego, ambition and a willingness to play just as rough as the boys to the newsrooms—and made history because of that.”

Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune
[D]aring, dashing… Sheila Weller has written “the” book of the year on TV broadcasting, a thing that may be a dying, rapidly changing art form, but it’s definitely still going to need voices and faces and intelligence giving out the news no matter how much our socially gadget-manipulated changing world changes. There will always be stars and TV has had them in spades… This is a terrific book. I marked mine so many times, it is virtually unreadable. Believe me, if you like history and gossip and believe, like I do, that gossip IS history — you will love reading about the big three.”

Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
Weller rivetingly recounts these gutsy ladies’ time on the front lines of domestic and international war zones, political battlefields, and live morning television; the prejudices they’ve faced; the personal sacrifices made and losses suffered, as well as the backlashes that followed their every gain, fueling their ambition and building their resilience. Weller’s portrait of how these extraordinary women, in the words of Sawyer, turn “pain into purpose” is an inspiration for future generations of journalists.”

New York Daily News
“This immensely readable book made headlines before publication for its irresistible gossip. It is dishy, but it’s also a close up and very personal examination of three women who broke all the barriers in TV news in terms of what it took, where it got them and the price they paid.”

Houston Chronicle:
“Weller is brave to write biographies with more than one primary person at the center. Professional biographers know that such a decision complicates research and writing exponentially. In a previous book, Weller… tackled three female vocalists. That book… deeply touched the emotions of many readers I know, female and male. I suspect The News Sorority will, too. [It’s] a book that makes age-old gender battles seem fresh.”

NYCityWoman.com
“[T]his book is not just the story of the fight against sexism waged by three plucky but different dames. The News Sorority is also a tale about the bygone heyday of network news…  Yet it is filled with important truthsVanity Fair style—about feminism in the news workplace… Weller is terrific in citing genuine and unique strengths: Amanpour’s relentless reporting on the horrors suffered by civilians during the war in Bosnia and the plight of Darfur; Couric’s campaign against the colon cancer that killed her first husband, complete with her on-air colonoscopy; Sawyer’s instinct for inspirational pieces about people like the Chilean miners and her humane yet probing interview with Whitney Houston.”

Bloomberg Businessweek
“Weller’s book is sure to be catnip to TV obsessives and people in the news business.”

Buffalo News
“This is an important book.”

Kirkus Reviews
“As she did in her fluid multitiered biography Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon—and the Journey of Generation, Weller takes apart feminist icons of her generation—those who came of age in the 1960s and ’70s—to see how they work and how they made it to prime time. Inspiring bios of today’s professional heroines.”

Booklist
“Best-selling author Weller draws on interviews with their friends and colleagues to offer portraits of the will and ambition each mustered to achieve iconic status. Weller details the personal tragedies they’ve dealt with… [and] also explores the unique personalities of these women and the set expectations among broadcast executives and viewers that they have had to overcome.”

Author Essay

Dear Reader,

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated with women who were little girls in one culture – your know, the one that said, “Be nice and wait your turn and don’t brag about yourself and maybe you should marry a lawyer…” – and defied those rules, in a big way, before or just when they were changing.

Diane Sawyer, the genteel, proper Southern beauty queen who ended up sleeping on baggage carts in airports and flying in dangerously tiny helicopters to crisis zones to beat out the competition…and not marrying (or having any furniture in her apartment) until she was 42. Katie Couric, who transferred the girlishness of her high school cheerleader and college sorority-sister self into a network-rescuing super-career as a morning star and then as the heir to Walter Cronkite – all while a far-too-young widow and single mother of two. Christiane Amanpour, a traditional housewife’s daughter with Farrah Fawcett hair and a Liza Minelli scrapbook who worked as a department store salesgirl after high school – and then became the bravest, most idealistic, and most policy-affecting war reporter of her time. These are the three women of The News Sorority.

Books that take the writer on unexpected journeys are always the most interesting for the author – and, hopefully, for the reader, too. Just as all three of these women morphed — by dint of their determination, charisma, strategic shrewdness, and love of the best storytelling of all: the truth! – into icons and pathbreakers, this book changed, for me, from its conception to its fruition. I started out thinking I was going to use Diane, Katie, and Christiane as markers for the change, over 40 years, in the idea of “what news is” – from a just-the-facts relaying of political events (by men in stentorian voices) to an understanding that societal changes, domestic life, psychology, and resonant human interest stories are as much “news” as legislation and wars. But as I researched and interviewed and wrote, I saw that the story was that of three women who woke up every morning of their lives refusing to say no. They believed in themselves when others didn’t, and they loved work the way, as girls, they were expected to love a man. You can’t bottle that kind of confidence and passion, but you can encounter in it a bracing lesson or two. And that, dear reader, is my hope for you.

– Sheila Weller

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