'Trailblazer' Journalist Dorothy Butler Gilliam Works To Diversify Newsrooms

Dorothy Butler Gilliam was the first African American woman reporter hired at The Washington Post in 1961. She was only 23 years old and her work was cut out for her as she lived through and wrote about the civil rights and women's movements — two pivotal moments in American history. 

Gilliam has since worked to make newsrooms across the country more diverse. 


A study by the Women's Media Center found that overall the number of women of color in newsrooms remain stagnant, or it fell in 2018 compared with previous years. The report also found women of color accounted for less than 8% of traditional print media jobs, just over 6% in radio jobs and about 12% for TV news jobs.

Gilliam retired from The Washington Post in 2003, and she still hasn't put the pen down.This year, she published a new story about her own life. Her memoir is called Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America.

Morning Edition host Leah Fleming spoke with Gilliam about her experiences in the newsroom and her work diversifying newsrooms today.

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