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Elijah Lovejoy
1802-1837

Brave defender of freedom of the press. Lovejoy used his press in Illinois to work to abolish slavery. Although he lost three presses to mobs who opposed his views, Lovejoy continued “to speak, to write and to publish whatever [he pleased] on any subject.” He was killed by an angry mob as he tried to stop them from setting fire to a warehouse where he was storing his newly delivered fourth press.


Margaret Fuller
1810-1850

First American female foreign and war correspondent. Described in her time as “the most remarkable and . . . greatest woman” in America, Fuller opened many doors for women journalists. When she joined the New York Tribune as literary critic, she was the first woman on the paper’s staff. Only two years later she fulfilled a lifelong dream of traveling to Europe as a writer. While there she commented on social change, interviewed political and artistic leaders, and covered current events. Not all of what she witnessed survived. Both Fuller and her papers were lost at sea in a shipwreck on her return home.


Mathew Brady
c. 1823-1896

Pioneering photographer. After learning the daguerreotype process from artist-inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, Brady built a successful portrait business with galleries in New York and Washington where the public could view photographs of famous people of the day. When the Civil War broke out, Brady got official approval to document the war. To do the job, he hired ten other photographers, set up field units in several states, and used large-format cameras and traveling darkrooms pulled by horse teams. Brady and his assistants took some 3,500 photographs of the war. Brady himself captured Abraham Lincoln and the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg on camera.


Samuel L. Clemens
1835-1910

Celebrated humorist better known as Mark Twain. Well known as a writer of novels, shorts stories, and sketches, Clemens also worked a good part of his life as a journalist. He learned the printer’s trade at a young age, and after a brief stint as a Mississippi steamboat pilot and service in the Confederate army, he headed west and became a reporter for papers in Nevada and California. Clemens’s accounts of adventures in the Sandwich Islands and the Holy Land as a travel correspondent were also published in newspapers as a series of travel letters. Clemens was surprised to discover on his return that the letters had made him famous from coast to coast.


Jacob Riis
1849-1914

Reformer and famous documentary photographer. Riis was a Danish immigrant to the United States with a knack for reporting. The New York slums became his beat. Riis wrote about what he saw on the streets, and his stories opened people’s eyes to the deplorable living conditions for many in the city. Riis’s writing and photographs were true good works that helped change the city for the better.


Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman)
1867-1922

World-traveling reporter. Bly got her first newspaper job in Pittsburgh after writing an angry letter in response to an article titled “What Girls Are Good For.” She later gave up her Pittsburgh columns on society, theater, and art for more daring reporting for the New York World. On one assignment she posed as a patient to investigate conditions in an insane asylum. On another, she traveled around the world in 72 days to beat a record of 80 days for the trip. Readers were able to trace her trip in a board game issued by the World.


H. L. Mencken
1880-1956

Influential contributor to American thought and literature. Although his father wanted him to run the family cigar factory, Mencken’s real ambition was to be journalist. After his father’s death he became the youngest reporter at a Baltimore paper and later pursued a lifelong career at the Baltimore Sun. His editorial column “The Free Lance” became one of the Sun’s most widely read features. A sharp critic, Mencken was at his best, in his own words, when his articles were “written in heat and printed at once.”


Grantland Rice
1880-1954

One of America’s best-known and respected sports writers. Rice saw sports as life. His column “Sportslight” appeared in more than 100 newspapers. He estimated that he wrote 1 million words a year—3,000 words a day—and traveled 15,000 miles a year to bring stories to his readers.

Walter Winchell
1897-1972

Newspaper gossip columnist. A singer himself, Winchell got his start in journalism writing up gossip about stars on backstage bulletin boards. Not long afterwards he was hired as a New York drama critic and columnist. Winchell’s special style, which featured words he coined, such as ‘cupiding’ for romance, won readers far beyond New York. At the peak of his career, Winchell was almost as great a celebrity as the celebrities he covered, and 800 papers carried his daily column.


Ernie Pyle
1900-1945

Perhaps the best-loved reporter of all time. Pyle covered the human side of the news in a folksy, chatty style. With his wife, Jerry, he traveled the United States and the world in search of stories about ordinary heroes. During World War II, Pyle mixed with soldiers in Europe and the Pacific and followed them into battle. His columns home gave readers a glimpse of war from what he called “the worm’s-eye view.”


Margaret Bourke-White
1904-1971

One of the world’s first and most famous photojournalists. Bourke-White used photography to document the Great Depression and World War II, creating the photo essay, in which one picture or a series of pictures are used to tell a story. During the Second World War she was the only woman photographer permitted in war zones by the U.S. Army. Capturing significant moments in the war on film, Bourke-White also snapped memorable portraits of world leaders, such as Churchill, Stalin, and Gandhi.


Alice Dunnigan
1906-1983

Champion of efforts to end segregation. During years of teaching and other work, Dunnigan kept alive her childhood dream to be a newspaper reporter by writing part-time for African American papers. When she finally became a full-time newspaper correspondent, she threw herself into her work. Her mission was to keep people informed about the efforts to end the separation of the races in America. Though suffering discrimination herself, Dunnigan took pride in witnessing history and, more than that, in building the pride of African Americans during a critical period.


Ethel Payne
1911-1991

Fearless civil rights reporter. Hired by the Chicago Defender as a features writer, Payne was drawn instead to hard news. She became the one-person Washington bureau of the Defender during the early years of the civil rights movement. Payne tracked civil rights developments tirelessly and skeptically. She was known to ask difficult questions even at presidential press conferences. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were signed by President Johnson, Payne was among the civil rights leaders present. Her reporting had helped bring about change, as she hoped it would.


Robert Capa
1913-1954

World-famous combat photojournalist. Firm in his belief that “if  your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough,” Capa put himself in the middle of the action. His photographs of soldiers in the trenches during the Spanish civil war made him famous around the world. Later assignments involved landing in France with the first wave of D-Day forces and jumping with paratroopers into Germany during World War II. Capa lost his life in the field, killed by a mine while on assignment in Vietnam.


Katharine Graham
1917-

Role model for women journalists. Taking over the Washington Post after the death of her husband, its publisher, Graham followed in the footsteps of her father, who had bought and built the paper. Graham had no choice but to learn the newspaper publishing business. In the process she rebuilt the paper. Graham hired Ben Bradlee, doubled the Post’s news staff, and gave editors and reporters freedom to work independently. Under her leadership, the Post printed the Pentagon Papers, broke the Watergate story, and became the nation’s leading political paper.


Ben Bradlee
1921-

Executive editor of the Washington Post. Bradlee was actively involved in the development of two of the Post’s biggest stories—the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Supported by a Supreme Court decision that upheld First Amendment guarantees of freedom of the press, he oversaw the Post’s publication of the series of articles and “top secret” government documents on the Vietnam War that came to be called the Pentagon Papers. Bradlee also authorized Post staff reporters Bernstein and Woodward to work the Watergate story.


Seymour Hersh
1937-

Dedicated investigative reporter. Working on his own in the late 1960s, Hersh tracked and broke the story of the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai by American troops during the Vietnam War. The story was picked up by 36 newspapers as well as news networks and news magazines and earned Hersh the Pulitzer Prize. Hersh continued to pursue story tips as a member of the New York Times staff, breaking news of U.S. B-52 bombing in Cambodia, illegal CIA spying on U.S. citizens, and CIA secret attempts to overthrow the leader of Chile.


Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
1944-              1943-

Investigative reporters who changed the way we think about politics. Washington Post journalists Bernstein and Woodward covered the Watergate scandal as a team. From the day of the burglary, the two developed leads and used a variety of sources to put together the story of President Nixon’s and others’ involvement in the break-in and its cover-up. Bernstein and Woodward’s work won a Pulitzer Prize for the Washington Post for outstanding public service. They later published two books on Watergate: All the President’s Men and The Final Days.

Anna Quindlen
1951-

Voice of the baby boomers. Even as a “little kid,” Quindlen wanted to be a writer. After working for her high school paper and the New York Post, she landed a job at the New York Times. Quindlen’s “Hers,” “Life in the 30s,” and “Public & Private” columns in the New York Times  were extremely popular. They captured her generation’s concerns about various social, political, and personal issues and won her the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1992.

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