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Leading female journalists discuss breaking industry barriers

January 30, 2008

Four leading women journalists will discuss the gains women have made in journalism and the challenges they still face at the second annual Paul J. Schatt Memorial Lecture Feb. 11 at Arizona State University.

The lecture, “Breaking the Barriers: Women Leaders in News,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Katzin Concert Hall on the Tempe campus. It is free and open to the public.

The lecture series is supported by an annual gift from The Arizona Republic and an endowment created in Paul Schatt’s memory by his widow, Laura Schatt. The Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is sponsoring this year’s event with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Panelists are:

  • Catherine Anaya, nightly news anchor at KPHO-TV in Phoenix;
  • Susan Green of the Cronkite School and former managing editor at KNXV-TV in Phoenix;
  • Ellen Soeteber of the Cronkite School and former editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and
  • Julia Wallace, editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and former managing editor of The Arizona Republic.

The panel will be moderated by Kristin Gilger, assistant dean of the Cronkite School.

“These women have great stories to tell about how they rose to the top ranks in their newsrooms during a time when newsrooms weren’t always hospitable to women,” Gilger said. “They know what it takes, and they know the challenges that still exist for women trying to make it in this business.”

Gilger noted that while women were once the distinct minority in newsrooms, they now dominate most television newsrooms and make up 37 percent of newspaper newsroom staffs. And women now account for two-thirds of enrollment in journalism schools across the country.

The topic is one that was important to her husband, said Laura Schatt, who helped launch the lecture series in her husband’s name shortly after his death in late 2005. “During his long career as a journalist and teacher, Paul mentored literally hundreds of young journalists,” she said. “He was always committed to fairness and equity.”

Paul Schatt started his career as a copy boy at the Republic while he was still in high school. He stayed for five decades, working his way up to reporting and then a number of editing roles. In 1975, he began teaching a class in public affairs reporting at the Cronkite School – something he continued to do for the next 30 years.

Athia Hardt, one of Paul Schatt’s longtime friends and a co-worker in his early days at the Republic, will introduce this year’s lecture. Hardt is the owner of Hardt & Associates public relations firm in Phoenix and a member of the Cronkite School Hall of Fame. She was the first women press secretary in Arizona, serving under former Gov. Bruce Babbitt.

The first Schatt lecture was held last spring and featured a panel of leading journalists discussing the importance of preserving traditional journalistic ethics in a time of rapid change for the industry. Subsequent lectures will be held each spring.