The panel, “Washington’s Women Journalists: Challenges and Changes in Political Reporting,” was part of the AEJMC 2013 conference.
Maurine Beasley, professor at the University of Maryland, spoke about the challenges women faced – from sitting in the National Press Club balcony, to having women’s restrooms attached to the Capitol press galleries.
Lisa Burns, professor at Quinnipiac University, spoke about the differences in political coverage of two first ladies: Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon.
Johnson was a welcome change for reporters, she said. Johnson worked on her own issues, but also campaigned for her husband.
Nixon’s coverage was more critical, Burns said. Nixon was seen as more passive because she was less political than Johnson.
Darlene Superville, a reporter with the Associated Press, has been covering the White House since 2009.
Superville recalled a time where she was traveling with first lady Michelle Obama shortly after the Newtown shootings. Some of the reporters on the trip asked questions about guns. Superville’s editor said he didn’t want hard news from the first lady.
“My editor was more interested in the bangs,” she said.
She ran a shortened version of the story later.