"I knew that the traditional role was not going to be enough for me.”
July 16, 2015 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Marlene Sanders’ Feminist Legacy [Slate obit] - "She wrote of her accomplishments: 'As I look back on my career, the women's movement provided an exceptional point when time, place and position all came together to give me the power and focus to contribute to the country’s awareness of the status of women.'"

From the New York Times obituary by William Grimes:
"In television newsrooms populated almost entirely by men, Ms. Sanders made remarkable inroads. In 1964, viewers beheld the rare — in fact, unprecedented — sight of a woman behind the anchor desk of a network news program when she substituted for Ron Cochran, who was sidelined with a throat ailment, on the evening news on ABC. She later took over for Sam Donaldson as the anchor of ABC’s weekend news for three months in 1971.

"She became one of the first network newswomen to report from the field in Vietnam, in 1966, and one of the first women to rise to the upper reaches of management when ABC made her vice president and director of documentaries in 1976.

"'Marlene Sanders got there first,' the journalist Bill Moyers told The Associated Press. 'That women are finally recognized as first-rate professionals is due in no small part to the pathbreaking courage of Marlene Sanders.'
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (4 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Okay so to my shame I had no idea who this was - apparently she was a very significant figure in TV journalism and also did some producing for Mike Wallace early in his career. Her work covered not just the blossoming second wave feminism, but Vietnam, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and overpopulation (which was a big concern at the time). Her son is Jeffrey Toobin.

The picture in the first link is her with a very, very young Peter Jennings in 1965. One of the things that shocked me - although why, I don't know - is that early journalistic coverage of the women's movement, or Women's Lib, was sneering and hostile - and this is from professional reporters covering the story! She changed that.

Her book is titled, Waiting for Prime Time: the Women of Television News, written with Marcia Rock.

I believe she is conveniently 'forgotten' and not celebrated enough, which is why I made this post.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:17 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Her son, Jeffrey Toobin, wrote a short piece for the New Yorker three years ago about what it was like to be raised by her.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm old enough to remember Marlene Sanders' work... and to remember when Barbara Walters got hired to be the "Today Girl" on the Today Show (yep, that was her title).
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:47 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this post; I'd seen her name and doubtless seen her on TV back in the day, but had forgotten all about her. (Because patriarchy.)
posted by languagehat at 6:14 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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