Yamiche Alcindor on her Journalism Career

The following are remarks from Yamiche Alcindor during the 8th Annual Washington Women in Journalism Awards event:

“Thank you so much Catherine for that amazing introduction. I got emotional and I thought maybe because we weren’t in person that I wouldn’t be so moved, but I’m almost near tears because it is surreal to me that I’m part of this event with the Norah O’Donnell; with the Susan Glasser; with the Karen Attitah, who was the editor for Jamal Khashoggi, who showed so much courage. I admire you women so much.

I would not be a journalist if it wasn’t for all the pioneering things that so many women before me did, including you, Nora, watching you every night helming the chair of CBS News; being an amazing anchor.

It is truly an honor to be doing this work. This last year was just so tough. There was so much that we had to go through. There were so many people who were so scared and to be honored among so many women who were doing the work of journalism. We were pressing Presidents for answers. We were out in the far corners of the country, interviewing people — interviewing immigrants about their lives and the people who couldn’t stay home. There were so many moments where I sat back and thought I am so proud to be a journalist in this moment; watching women like Norah, Susan and Karen, but also Abby Phillip, Margaret Talev, Ashley Parker, and so many women that have been honored by Washingtonian and Story Partners.

…I would not be where I am without having grown up with a woman. My mom, a Haitian immigrant who came to this country in the 70s without speaking English, who then went on to earn a Ph.D. and spent three decades as a social worker — taking me to take your child to work day, where she was asking tough questions and trying to help people’s lives. She showed me what it meant to raise children on your own while also going into tough neighborhoods, but also treating people with empathy and treating people with dignity. It is that that has grounded my reporting. It’s trying to have a human connection with people and trying to make people empathize with other people who they may not naturally connect with.

I’m thinking about Gwen Ifill who Gloria talked about so eloquently about the advice that she gave me and about how lucky I was to have the mentorship of Gwen and her friend Athelia Knight, who worked as a long time Washington Post reporter.

I remember meeting Gwen and trying to give her my nickname “Miche” to try to put her at ease because my name Yamiche is always such a mouthful and she told me, “Don’t let anyone nickname you. Be comfortable in your own skin.” That has stuck with me so much as I’ve gone from print to broadcast news, and an understanding that whatever people say about you: saying that you’re not confident enough or not pretty enough, or not skinny enough — that all those things don’t matter if you know yourself and you’re comfortable with yourself and you lean into yourself. That was great advice that Gwen gave me that I’m leaning into as I now take the helm of a show that she loves so much, Washington Week.

…Gwen breathed confidence into me so many times when I would call her rattled about whether or not I could actually be on Meet the Press and sit at a table with so many amazing people who my mom had grown up watching and she told me every time, “You earned this. You deserve this. Lean into this. You belong.”… I’ve been lucky to have women who have told me you belong and it’s OK to be ambitious. So many times the word ambition is thrown as an insult to women. But I know in looking at Norah and looking at Susan and looking at Karen, what are you but ambitious? What are you but fair and smart and brilliant? And also, people that are achieving all that you want to achieve. To be named and to be awarded this with you is so touching to me.

As I think about where I’m going now with Washington Week and wanting to expand it and thinking about sitting at an anchor desk and being nervous a lot, I know that because all of you women are doing the work that you’re doing, that I can do the work that I’m doing.

I’m so grateful to be given this Outstanding Journalism Award in Broadcast News. It is blowing my mind as someone who grew up writing short stories, who thought I would be a newspaper person forever that I was able to make the switch to broadcast news and to be able to now be an anchor, which I think is just a surreal experience. So, I just want to say thank you so much. I feel so blessed to be a part of this group and to be awarded this. Thank you.”

Yamiche Alcindor, Anchor & Moderator of the Washington Week on PBS, and White House Correspondent for the NewsHour, is the recipient of the 2021 Washington Women in Journalism Awards’ as Outstanding Journalist in Broadcast Television.