From a Q & A with Alice Fahs about her new book, Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space:
Q: You state that we know more about a few mid-nineteenth century women journalists than we do about the hundreds of female journalists writing at the turn of the century, despite the amount of published writing they left behind. Why is this the case?--Marshal Zeringue
A: Many of the newspaper women I write about were well known in their day--some were even syndicated nationally--so I imagine they would have been pretty surprised that they have been so thoroughly forgotten. But there is a perfect storm of reasons why they have been neglected. Not only do we tend to undervalue the types of newspapers they often worked for (so-called "yellow" or sensational newspapers), but we undervalue the kinds of work newspaper women did--especially if their stories appeared on the much-maligned woman's page. So we simply haven't looked for these women's writings.
By the way, even newspaper women themselves often undervalued their work (one of the reasons there are so few collections of their papers or letters in archives). Women journalists who aspired to political reporting or police reporting were understandably resentful that they were often forced to work for the woman's page instead. They talked scornfully of being stuck in the "hen coop." But a big surprise for me was how lively their writings were for the woman's page--how much fun they were to read.
Q: Out on Assignment mentions many "stunts" or "adventures" performed by female journalists. What are some examples, and what caused these stunts to be simultaneously popular and controversial?
A: Lots of people remember that Nellie Bly made a newspaper sensation by going...[read on]