1927: Dorothy Thompson: 1893- 1961

Dorothy Thompson, one of the “Cassandra’s of the Coming Storm”, successfully straddled two mediums, radio and print, during the WWII era. At the height of her career her syndicated newspaper column reached an estimated eight million readers and her NBC radio-broadcasts an estimated five million listeners. In 1940 a TIME magazine cover story about her, Thompson was described as being second in power and prestige only to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Thompson became Berlin bureau chief for New York Evening Post 1927. Like Sigrid Schultz, Thompson had the ambition and imagination to take advantage of the conditions that at that time made it possible for women to enter into these positions. She also created her own environment from which to gather information with her own salons, dinner parties made up of her own “brain trust” of influential people. In 1934 she was expelled from Germany for having offended Hitler and the Third Reich with her articles and her book I Saw Hitler.

Her accomplishments also won her the title “one of the first American women foreign bureau chiefs,” but she resented this kind of acclaim. Thompson believed that women should be judged by the same merits as men and not be made into spectacles by such dubious distinctions. Nevertheless, Thompson was labeled variously as “Richard Harding Davis in an evening gown” or as the most famous “newspaper man” of her time. She was complimented as having the “brain of a man,” to which she responded “which one?”

Thompson became a syndicated columnist in 1936 for the New York Herald Tribune after the paper’s publisher Ogden Reid became impressed by her ability to distill complex foreign issues for a predominantly female audience at a forum sponsored by the Tribune. “On the Record” debuted in 1936, and men became the main audience. Her column had a greater audience than Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Anne O’Hare McCormick and Walter Lippman. In addition to her three times a week newspaper columns, a monthly column in the Ladies Home Journal, yearly lecture tours, she was also a regular on NBC radio news.

BUY THE DVD

Women reporters during WWII were told war reporting was No Job For a Woman. Buy the DVD, available for purchase from Women Make Movies, to find out how these women over came the restrictions and created a new way of telling the story of war.
2011, 61 minutes, Color, DVD, English

Click here to purchase a copy of the film