Empowering Women in News

My mom once told me that I had “big dreams.” We lived all over while I was growing up, from Germany to Seoul, as my father’s job as an infectious disease doctor in the Army took us to every corner of the world. Through all of the change, there were two constants in my life — church and 60 MINUTES. Journalism was my window to the world, but even at a young age, I noticed there was one thing lacking in television news — women.

Today, the television landscape has changed immensely. As Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News, I think about those who’ve come before me. There are only two women who have solo-anchored an evening newscast: Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer. Those were big shoes to fill!

The message and value behind the Washingtonian Women in Journalism Awards is that together as a community, we can be stronger and help one another. We can be a support system for one another. I would never have made it anywhere here at CBS News or in broadcast journalism without an incredible network of support.

My mother also told me that the best way to avoid the pressures of people who may put roadblocks in your way is to develop a strong support system. I firmly believe that the quality of our lives is built around the quality of our relationships. As women of the Washington press corps, we must lift each other up and drown out the negative voices that express doubt in our abilities. Self-doubt is one of the biggest challenges that we face. We doubt that we are smart enough or have enough experience to take on a role.

As a journalist, I also realized that doubt can be a driving force. Doubt and fear can push you into stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s a great example of how your biggest obstacle in life may become your purpose, and often, believing in yourself is the best superpower.

We can and should be a support system for one another. While doing so, we must also do our part to uphold the truth, especially now, when truth, civility and journalism are under attack. But we can fix that. We must fix it because our democracy depends on it.

Norah O’Donnell, Anchor and Managing Editor, CBS Evening News

Norah O’Donnell is the recipient of the 2021 Washington Women in Journalism Awards’ Hall of Fame Award.