10 Women Who Shaped the World of Communications Forever

In the midst of doubt and opposition, women have established their mark in the communications industry by creatively pioneering efforts to ensure the public’s voice is heard. Through a compilation of journalists, TV broadcasters and radio hosts, women from all walks of life have contributed immensely to the development of meaningful communication at any international level.

With a pen in hand and a persevering heart, these women truly shaped the world we know today. Here are ten accomplishments to be noted.

1. Ann Smith Franklin

Noted as sister-in-law of Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, Ann Franklin impressed the world as she earned the title of first woman printer and publisher in Colonial America. From almanacs to currency, the government exclusively contracted her to supply the demand of her community. Through her efforts, women became empowered to work in the print industry.

2. Hannah Adams

Despite financial hardships and lack of schooling, Hannah Adams became the first woman professional writer in the country. In addition to authoring several books, she conducted numerous historical and collaborative analyses. Her love for compositional writing and literature continues to inspire many women to pursue a professional career in writing.

3. Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball by Philippe Halsman, 1950

Known for her iconic debut sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball “[co-created, produced and starred]” in the primetime hit, which set a national standard for women in the acting and filmmaking industry. She not only mastered daytime television in the 1950s, but she also became a beloved radio host encouraging women everywhere that their influential voice belongs in the media. To this day, her legacy as “queen of comedy” continues to elevate the powerful role of female actresses and filmmakers in production.

4. Eleanor Roosevelt

Elanor Roosevelt, Keystone/Getty Images

Former First Lady to the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt influenced the world of radio broadcasting through the launching of her talk show. As a social activist, she utilized her platform in being “the first to use the media to promote social causes dear to her heart.” She empowered the female journalists of her time by hosting private press gatherings and providing solid information on developing news.

5. Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters 1965, Getty Images

Mastering her role as broadcasting host, Barbara Walters has pioneered through over forty years of work experience by interviewing high-profile celebrities and public figures. During an era where female TV personalities were noted for their looks rather than their competency, she set the standard for intellectual discussion. Through her professionalism and wit, she led the industry in successfully executing insightful work.

During an era where female TV personalities were noted for their looks rather than their competency, she set the standard for intellectual discussion.

6. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey; for Vanity Fair by Joe Pugliese

With a name as influential as her career, Oprah Winfrey established herself as a successful reporter who earned the title of “youngest news anchor” at her local broadcasting company. Thereafter, her career skyrocketed, and she eventually rose to fame for the launch of her daily talk show, print magazine and network channel. Despite her difficult past, Oprah’s success is a testament to her personal drive and work ethic.

7. Ida Lupino

In the mid-1900s, Ida Lupino became one of the first and few female directors noted in history. Being an actress herself, she used her life experiences to curate life-like movies. Since many films during her age lacked motion, her films captivated the attention of many through the usage of her moving camera. In addition to her technical skills, Ida paved the way for female artistry in the world of acting.

8. Connie Chung

Connie Chung. RTCA, Capitol Hill

With charm and elegance, Connie Chung succeeded the accomplishment of “first-Asian American woman to be signed as a national network anchor and to have a national signature news program.” As a professional journalist, she has worked with several influential networks, including ABC, CBS and NBC. Furthermore, she received attention for her investigative interviews conducted during the Presidential scandal, Watergate. Her work continues to serve as an inspiration for women — especially those of minor ethnicities — to excel in the journalistic workforce.

9. Julia Child

Julia Child by Paul Child

The iconic, Julia Child — yes, the real life, leading lady from the movie, “Julia & Julia” — changed communications forever with her telebroadcasting cooking show, which showcased her myriad of delectable, French recipes in light of her charming persona. Her food demonstrations and kitchen knowledge built a sense of community for homemakers in both the USA and France, throughout her career in the 1960s. She wittingly used humor to captivate audiences and successfully brought an element of authenticity to primetime television–a trait many food networks attempt to emulate today.

10. Dorothy Thompson

Dorothy Thompson (right) chatting with ambulance driver in London, 1941. Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

As political advocate and reporter, Dorothy Thompson, proudly impacted journalism as being one of the first women columnists to work abroad. With her energetic personality and high-caliber rhetoric, she traveled around the world on behalf of the American people to pursue newsworthy storytelling. She notably conducted an interview with Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler, “as a war correspondent based in London.” Her skillful experience included both strong, compositional writing and influential radio broadcasting; she served as one of very few female correspondents during World War II.

Through all forms of mass media, these women remind us to take part and add value to the societal conversations happening in our world. Our lineage of those who have gone before us only proves that we do have what it takes to make a difference.

Any other female figures in the communications field that have inspired you? Let us know in the comments down below!

Feature Image by Frank Terry for Darling Issue No. 5

Victoria is a freelance editor, photographer and writer currently residing in her home state of Florida. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Public Relations/Journalism at Southeastern University. She is an avid traveller with a love for community, culture and culinary finds.

8 COMMENTS
  • Kenny White July 20, 2017

    Thank you so much for this article. I appreciated the insight and the fact that you were able to identify women from a variety of specialties within communications! Well done! Keep up the great work!

  • Janell Ives June 6, 2017

    Thumbs up for women in communications. I know that this is by no means an exhaustive list because it’s hard to change the world but I would add Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly and Christiane Amanpour to the list for their fields.

  • Elaine Durbach June 2, 2017

    Ruth Gruber, who reported from Germany on the eve of WWII and the Arctic. Died at about 100 last year, I think.

  • Teri June 2, 2017

    Ida B. Wells, Lisa Ling, Robin Roberts, and Gwen Ifill definitely made a huge impact on the industry!

  • Hannah Jane Farris June 1, 2017

    yes!! love this!! also Hannah More http://abolition.e2bn.org/people_60.html

  • J June 1, 2017

    Agreed with this list. However, Tina Fey deserves recognition. More contemporary.

  • What inspiring women, and how nice it was to read and learn about them! Thank you for sharing.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Jade Sparrow June 1, 2017

      Joan Didion for her literary journalism

POST A COMMENT