At the Washington Star, where I began as a reporter, one of my greatest thrills was being able to work in the same newsroom with Mary McGrory, who was the exception to the mostly male rule.
She was a trailblazing columnist who changed the way we look at -- and write -- about politics. I would have been honored just to carry her bags (which I often did). She was a female star, a role model -- not to mention being a brilliant writer who asked the direct questions no one else would. There weren't enough women in the newsroom then, but we were starting to sprout. The boys club was daunting, especially if you wanted to cover politics. I approached it with the sense that maybe I was trying to be initiated into a fraternity where I didn't quite belong.
But women did make the move to politics and we did belong. I was in print -- at the Star, then at Newsweek, then at U.S. News and World Report. I ironically always thought that TV was going to be my backup job. Then, of course, print started to literally disappear. And what I discovered was that the skills of being a good broadcast journalist are largely the same as being a good print journalist -- both require the same ability to report, write and explain. Those requirements have remained steadfast.
Luckily, other things are very different from back in the day. Here at CNN, it's not uncommon for women to dominate -- whether as correspondents in the field or on political panels. It's not only a different environment, it's a broader environment and I think we cover the news better because of it.
But while certain things are better, my younger colleagues have it far from easy. In fact, when I look back -- especially on my days writing weekly at Newsweek (imagine that!) -- the schedule seems so, well, relaxed.
At CNN, it isn't uncommon for moms to be at the office early and work through the evenings, particularly in a busy period like the election. The 24/7 news cycle means that they don't have the ability that I had to take a break in my day, go home for dinner, and then continue to work and write in the privacy of my own home. That was definitely true in my print reporter days. And I even remember when, on the campaign trail, all of the focus was getting a story on the evening news. How quaint that all seems now.
Today, the girls on the bus are always on -- either traveling, or in the studio or reporting off camera. I marvel -- absolutely marvel -- at their ability to juggle. Sure, I had to juggle things to find balance, too, but not like this. They are champions at what they do, and I stand in awe.
When we are in the bureau at the same time -- a rarity these days -- we realize how much we miss the daily camaraderie. In our corner of CNN Washington world, I have my office, and Dana Bash is next door, and Brianna Keilar is there, too. We talk all the time. The great thing about women at CNN is that we value each other and counsel each other. Mommy guilt is a very real thing; we have all been through it, with a sense that no matter where you are you think you should be somewhere else. But we thrive, and so do our children.
The support flows both ways between generations here. One tiny example: When I was trying to figure out a cool song to dance to with my son at his wedding, the dance party began in the office next door. We celebrate together, we confide in each other and we trust each other's judgment and reporting.
You bring who you are to every story you cover, but you don't cover a story differently just because you are a woman. That diversity may just bring a different question or point of view to an interview or to a piece. It took a while for us all to recognize that, but at least we do now.
And that's not changing.