Interview with a Journalist

Linda Pattillo attended Colgate University of undergraduate college and Columbia University- Graduate school of Journalism to get her master’s degree. Once leaving grad school she worked her way through local news from Charlottesville to Richmond to Miami. Then worked at ABC news for seven years as an Atlanta correspondent then a London correspondent that worked on many international stories and war coverage. She experienced a lot of different gatekeepers good and bad and having to deal with being a woman war correspondent in a male dominated field. (Honestly I think every industry is male dominated because even in many fields that are “women’s jobs” men still make more money).  She dealt with clothing issues that differed between men and women, and the need to go above and beyond in order to get just as far as her male counterparts we also briefly spoke about the salary difference between her and the other men in her combat pool yet, they did the same work. Linda Pattillo is an amazing, hardworking and talented reporter yet she still faced scrutiny just for being a woman.

Professor Pattillo spoke of the male and female gatekeeper that both helped and hindered her from the next opportunities. In the local news area most stations were activity looking for women news anchors so they were very positive gatekeepers for her. Once she was at ABC News Peter Jennings was a much respected gatekeeper and mentor to. He took an interest in her career and helped her grow her writing and was a great example of a journalist that she could learn from.  Yet, she still had some standing in her way there was a woman who will remain nameless as the executive producer at World News Tonight that only promoted men onto the show. May of the hire ups didn’t pay much attention to that fact but all the women noticed. This reminds me so much of our discussion that although women will be shown as only sex objects in commercials and other ads there are still some women in the corporate  realm that hold you back and let the stereotype live on. Or they don’t give promotions to other women because they assume others will think “oh she promoted her because she’s a women”. So as we can see even with a women at the top many women still are not as successful as men.

When it came to clothing she felt as if there was huge difference in what women could wear verse men. For example, there was always a big emphasis on what they would wear, women needed to look good but not over the top. At one point one of her colleagues was criticized because she wore red lipstick. Women would always have to think if the jewelry that they wore was it appropriate for a war zone which was a problem men never face.

When speaking about women going above and beyond to get just as far in their careers  Mrs. Pattillo gave me a quote that reminder her about it “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels”. Basically women did so much and sometimes even better yet didn’t always get the credit that they deserved. She felt that if it was not stated that it was implied that women were always under scrutiny. The example she gave me was the gulf war “it was all men standing up on the roof of the hotel in Saudi Arabia doing the live shot and I was sitting in the news room as a young female reporter. So in order for her to get on air she had to join the combat pool to be able to cover the story and she did just that! At first her unit was very welcoming she said but she constantly had to prove that she should be there by digging her own fighting hole each day when they settled into a new place! She also said that there were marines that felt she shouldn’t be there, that if they were to go onto combat they would need to rescue her instead of worrying about their duty rather than a male reporter witch they wouldn’t have to save. At this time the marine corps didn’t allow women in combat so when gulf war started they wanted to send Mrs. Pattillo back and ABC news had to petition the Marine corps in order to allow her to go on and cover the war. Not only did women have to go above and beyond to achieve close to what men got but there was also a salary different between men and women too. Pattillo said “ in a really crazy way you knew when someone said at lunch I just maxed out on my social security and you hadn’t maxed out yet and it goes to a maximum salary that they made more than you did” for the same job.

Later I asked about some female role models that she looked up to. She said “there weren’t a lot of them at the time I think Diana Sawyer and Barba Walters reaching way back I always use to admire Martha Gellhorn who covered wars in Europe”

My last question to professor Pattillo was how we can change the dynamic of women in media, I prefaces with talking about the MANYYYYY uneducated women that represent our culture in today’s society. She responded with that women and men need to be properly educated before being promoted in her realm you need to have the “journalistic chops” in order to be promoted!

This interview showed me how deep the gap between men and women really is sometime the people holding you back and can be women as well. Yet she also taught me that if I work hard that I can have a very successful life in journalism I just have to know what I’m doing. Knowing what you can bring to the table and having the skills and talent, that is something that no one can take away from you man or women learning this will  help me hone in on my skills so next month when I’m in the job market I know how to present my best self so I can get the jobs!


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