by Jan Whitt
University of Illinois Press, 2007
eISBN: 978-0-252-05647-5 | Paper: 978-0-252-07556-8 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03354-4
Library of Congress Classification PN4872.W47 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 071.3082

In this volume, Jan Whitt tells the stories of women who have been overlooked in journalism history, offering an important corrective to scholarship that narrowly focuses on the deeds of men like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. She shows how numerous women broadened the editorial scope of newspapers and journals, transformed women’s professional roles, used journalism as a training ground for major literary works, and led breakthroughs in lesbian and alternative presses.

Whitt explores the lives of women reporters who achieved significant historical recognition, such as Ida Tarbell and Ida Wells-Barnett. Investigating the often blurry boundary between journalism and literature, she explains how this fluid distinction has actually limited how many scholars perceive the contributions of authors such as Joan Didion and Susan Orlean. Whitt also highlights the work of important novelists, including Willa Cather, Katherine Anne Porter, and Eudora Welty, to shed light on how their work as journalists informed their highly successful fiction.

This study also offers a survey of contributions women have made to the alternative presses, including the environmental press and civil rights activism. Whitt examines important figures in the early feminist press such as Caroline Churchill, editor and reporter for Denver’s Queen Bee, and Betty Wilkins of Kansas City’s Call. Finally, through newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and journals, she traces the history of the lesbian press and points out the ways in which it indicates that the alternative press is thriving.