Networks tip female journalists to lead White House coverage

Top US News Networks select female journalists to lead White House coverage

White House

Six major US news networks including CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and The Washington Post are assigning women to lead the White House coverage

The leading news networks are mirroring Joe Biden’s female-led cabinet, which he announced last November after being declared the winner of the presidential race. The new cohort of female press corps reflects Biden’s impressive administration, which include Jen Psaki as press secretary, Neera Tanden as policy advisor, Karine Jean Pierre as a principal deputy press secretary and Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Let’s take a quick look at the six women leading the White House coverage. 

Yamiche Alcindor — PBS

After spending years as a political contributor to NBC News and MSNBC and as a reporter for USA Today and The New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor will continue to lead PBS’s coverage in the White House. She was appointed White House correspondent of the PBS NewsHour in January 2018, when she was just 31. 

Alcindor was one of the moderators of the sixth Democratic debate in December 2019, which saw Democratic nominees battle it out for the leadership candidacy, including Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. 

In 2013, Alcindor was named “Emerging Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists, and two years later, became a national political reporter for the New York Times. In the role, she covered Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns. 

“It is clear that diversity in all forms including in gender and race is necessary to tell the stories of our generation in the most accurate and fair way,” Alcindor told CNN Business. “The American people are best served by a media that looks like the collage of experiences and backgrounds that make up this country.”

In 2020, Alcindor received the Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage from theWhite House Correspondents’ Association.

Kristen Welker — NBC

NBC has selected Kristen Welker to continue to head the coverage for the network in the seat of co-chief of White House correspondent with her colleague Peter Alexander, who has been White House correspondent since December 2012.

Last October, Welker became the first black woman to moderate a general-election presidential debate in almost 30 years. The last time a black woman moderated a general-election presidential debate was in 1992, when Carole Simpson became the first woman and first minority to moderate a presidential debate, which in that year was between Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. 

Welker graduated from Harvard and became an NBC White House correspondent in December 2011. 

Kaitlan Collins — CNN 

CNN named Kaitlan Collins its chief White House correspondent, replacing Jim Acosta, who served in the role for nine years. 

“I’ve always thought women belonged in the front row — whether that’s in the White House briefing room or any other,” Collins told the network. “I am thrilled to be among this formidable group of reporters.”

At just 28, Collin will be one of the youngest Chief Correspondents in history for a major media network. She was the White House correspondent for The Daily Caller, a Washington DC-based 24-hour news publication —  a position she held since June 2014,. In 2017, she became the website’s White House correspondent and two years later, named one of Forbes 30 under 30: Media. 

Ashley Parker — The Washington Post

This past week, the paper has named Parker as its White House bureau chief. Parker joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress. Parker is also an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC. In 2018, she won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for her coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. 

Nancy Cordes — CBS
Cordes has been named the CBS News’ chief White House correspondent. She joined the network in 2007 after two years as a correspondent for ABC News based in New York. 

Cecilia Vega — ABC 

Vega joined the ABC network in 2011 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent, and will now be its national White House correspondent. Before working in broadcast journalism, she wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, covering the elections and inauguration for Barack Obama in 2012, and travelling to disaster zones, including the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

Last October, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Vega told Good Morning America that whenever she finds herself the only Latina in a room, she sees it as “an opportunity, to teach people what our culture is about, how hardworking we are and how many obstacles we have overcome as a group.”

Shifting Tides

The latest female appointments mark a turnaround for the White House press corps, which has traditionally been dominated by men. Keli Goff, a US political commentator, told The Observer the importance of electing a newsroom cast that represented the country’s diverse population. 

 “If the events of the last year have shown us anything‎, it’s that it is essential to have institutions of power that reflect our nation’s diversity,” she said. “… for newsrooms that cover those institutions to reflect our nation’s diversity as well.”

“The increased diversity of the White House press corps is an important step forward for journalism and for ensuring our leaders are held accountable when it comes to blind spots they may have.” 

Since Biden’s inauguration last week, more women will have been represented on both sides of the stage — for the first time ever, Biden’s communications team is fully staffed by women. 

Edelman, a Chicago-based communications firm, released a report last week that coined the term “raging infodemic”, explaining how trust in news sources have hit record lows.

The report, Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, found that trust in traditional media dropped eight percent since 2019 to just 53 percent. Trust in social media stood at 35 percent — a substantial plummet from 43 percent over the same period.

“Without a trusted leadership source to look to, people don’t know where or who to get reliable information from,” the report stated. “Societal leaders must lead with facts and act with empathy. They must have the courage to provide straight talk, but also empathise with and address people’s fears.” 

Former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, told CNN that the balance of genders has shifted in the briefing room in the last few years. 

“A generation ago, being the only woman was perhaps a blessing — I really stood out from the crowd,” she said. “The day will come — should come — when it is not news that the majority in the public eye in any profession is female.” 

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