Women Journalists Speak

Panel at Schlesinger Offers Advice to Young Writers

Four women journalists described their experiences in the news industry and urged an audience of approximately 50 students and alumni to consider a career in journalism.

At a panel discussion sponsored by Radcliffe Career Services last night in Schlesinger Library, a former news anchor, a former news correspondent, a newspaper editor and a television news producer said journalism can be unpredictable and exciting.

Loretta M. McLaughlin, associate editor of The Boston Globe editorial page, began the talk by describing her experience as one of the few women in journalism.

She detailed her 30-year-plus career, which began as a writer for the Boston Evening America and Boston Herald Traveler covering stories that ranged from five-alarm fires to the Boston Strangler.

She emphasized the importance of persistence for the novice reporter.


'Come and Go'

"Start thinking about what you want to do. You should not get discouraged if you can't get jobs. Recessions come and go," McLaughlin said.

Melissa M. Ludtke, former Time magazine news correspondent and current Nieman Fellow, said she was banned from the 1977 World Series locker rooms because the players' wives hadn't been consulted and the players' children would feel humiliated in school.

Her then-employer, Sports Illustrated, won a landmark legal case establishing equal access for women sports reporters before the next Series.

Ludtke said she discovered her niche while writing the "Children Having Children" cover story for Time in 1985. Journalism, she said, is "transposing experiences people had and policies that shaped these experiences."

Former Ten O'Clock News anchor Carmen M. Fields began her career in journalism which she was 10 years old by starting her own newspaper. She said she advanced from door-to-door distribution to a variety of print and electronic journalism jobs, gaining the nickname "Lois Lane Fields" along the way.

Fields called herself a journalist in transition, saying, "I've always been into journalism," but confessing, "I'm still not sure why I'm a journalist."

Elizabeth A. Cheng, an award-winning executive television producer for Channel 5, said she didn't like her first job as a PBS announcer. Ten years ago she happily "jumped ship" to programming and research at Channel 5.

She offered her top 10 recommendations for succeeding in journalism. Cheng said, "Enter because you feel you have something to give," "Be ready to handle incredible changes," and "Develop a sense of humor."