If you are looking at pursuing a career in journalism or broadcasting, learning about those who have come before you is a good idea. Learning about the greats can help shed light on what these professionals had to go through to reach the top. After all, it isn’t always easy. Few trips to the top rarely are. One individual who saw her share of struggles and adversity is Barbara Walters, possibly the most famous female news anchor and broadcaster to date. Understanding what she went through, especially during the 1960s when men dominated the industry, is very important.
Early life and career
Barbara Walters was born September 25, 1929 in Boston. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York and graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She eventually obtained her first journalism job as an assistant at WRCA-TV in New York City. She continued to improve her writing and production skills when she moved over to writing material for CBS’s Morning Show.
In 1961, Walters moved to NBC to work as a writer and researcher for the Today Show, which is still the most popular morning news program in the country. She initially had the job of creating stories directed towards female viewers, although she eventually obtained an assignment to travel with Jacqueline Kennedy, then First Lady of the United States, through Pakistan and India. Walters had the lone responsibility of reporting directly to the network and on-air from her locations. By 1964, she became a Today Show staple and appeared alongside Hugh Downs and Frank McGee. She served as the co-host, although she didn’t receive the actual title until 1974 and the most prominent interviews were conducted her male co-hosts.
Walters stayed on the show for 11 years and won her first Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award in 1975. She eventually moved to ABC in 1976, when she was offered a $1 million annual salary, which at that time was unheard of. In the same year, she moderated the final presidential debate between Jimmy Carter and President Gerald Ford. She also started the series Barbara Walters Specials in 1976.
As part of her $1 million salary, Barbara became a part-time correspondent for 20/20. She had exclusive interviews with many high-profile individuals, including President Richard Nixon, as she was the first person to interview him after his resignation six years earlier. Barbara continued on through 2004 while making $12 million a year (she was the highest paid news host in the history of television when she decided to leave). She went on to become co-creator and star of popular morning series The View. Though she has claimed to have retired from broadcasting on various occasions, she can still be seen on the air from time to time.