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Jul 20 2013

Helen Thomas 1920-2013

A blazer of trails.

When Ms. Thomas took a job as a radio writer for United Press in 1943 (15 years before it merged with the International News Service to become U.P.I.), most female journalists wrote about social events and homemaking. The journalists who covered war, crime and politics, and congratulated one another over drinks at the press club were typically men.

Covering war, crime and politics was mostly a guy thing.

She worked her way into full-time reporting and by the mid-1950s was covering federal agencies. She covered John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960, and when he won she became the first woman assigned to the White House full time by a news service.

Ms. Thomas was also the first woman to be elected an officer of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the first to serve as its president. In 1975, she became the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, which for 90 years had been a men-only bastion of Washington journalists.

Ms. Thomas was known for her dawn-to-dark work hours, and she won her share of exclusives and near-exclusives. She was the only female print journalist to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his breakthrough trip to China in 1972.

Lots and lots of trails. Thank you Helen Thomas.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    thesandiseattle

    Had not heard she had passed. Sad. Always thought she was a cool lady.

  2. 2
    thebookofdave

    Helen Thomas was a pioneer of women in journalism. She has my enduring admiration. The world has some big shoes to fill.

  3. 3
    Małgorzata Koraszewska

    Helen Thomas was also a proponent of ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East and a believer in Jewish/Zionist power over American politics, banking and media. These “virtues” should also be remembered.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    A fair point. I wish she hadn’t been…

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