If you aspire to be a professional writer, you may find some inspiration in the careers of famous journalists.
A History of Famous Journalists
The history of journalism includes many notable individuals. Listing all of the talented writers who have ever worked as journalists would be an almost impossible task. However, LoveToKnow Freelance Writing would like to recognize the contributions of the following men and women.
Elijah Parish Lovejoy (1802-1837)
A journalist, newspaper editor, and Presbyterian minister; Elijah Parish Lovejoy used his press in Illinois to spread the word of the abolitionist movement. He lost three presses to mobs who opposed his view that slavery should be abolished, but he refused to give up his right to free speech. Unfortunately, Lovejoy was eventually murdered by an angry mob trying to set fire to his newspaper warehouse.
Samuel L. Clemens (1835-1910)
Samuel L. Clemens is better known as Mark Twain, but many people are surprised to learn this great humorist actually spent a large portion of his life working as journalist. After serving in the Confederate army, he became a reporter for newspapers in Nevada and California. He also wrote as a travel correspondent, detailing adventures in the Sandwich Islands and the Holy Land.
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
H.L. Mencken's father wanted him to run the family cigar factory, but he knew his real ambition was to be a journalist. When his father passed away, Mencken pursued a career at the Baltimore Sun and wrote an editorial column called "The Free Lance" which became one of the paper's most popular features. He is best known for his satirical reporting on Scopes vs. The State of Tennessee - a landmark case in the controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution. Mencken once said he felt he worked best when words were "written in heat and printed at once."
Walter Winchell (1897-1972)
Walter Winchell started his journalism career writing gossip about stars and posting it on backstage bulletin boards when he was performing as a singer. Soon after, he was hired as a drama critic and columnist. His unique style of writing made him very popular; more than 800 papers carried his column at the height of his career. In fact, one could say Winchell was almost as well known as the celebrities he covered.
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
Edward R. Murrow was an American broadcast journalist who became very popular during World War II when he issued a series of radio broadcasts for listeners in the United States and Canada. However, the highlight of his career was his series of TV news reports that led to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy for falsely claiming there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies working in the United States government.
Helen Thomas (1920-Present)
Helen Thomas was the first female office of the National Press Club, the first female member of the Gridiron Club, and the first female president of the White House Correspondents Association. In her remarkable journalism career, she has written about every President of the United States since John F. Kennedy.
Anna Quindlen (1951-Present)
Anna Quindlen always knew she wanted to join the ranks of famous journalists. She got her start on her high school newspaper and later ended up writing for The New York Times. Quindlen won the Pulitzer Prize for a commentary in 1992. She left journalism in 1995 to become a full-time novelist. From 1999 to 2009, however, she wrote a bi-weekly column in Newsweek.
Famous People with Journalism Degrees
Of course, not everyone who studies journalism goes on to join the ranks of famous journalists. It is common for people who study journalism and communications in college to later go into law, politics, entrainment, sales, marketing, or advertising.
Some of the many famous people who studied journalism and communications in college, but went on to pursue other career fields include:
- Spike Lee
- Meg Ryan
- Denzel Washington
- James Gandolfini
- Hugh Hefner
- Brandi Chastain
- Sarah Palin
Think Exist has a section devoted to quotes from notable people throughout the history of journalism.
If you are interested in learning more about notable photojournalists, check out the History of Photojournalism article on the LoveToKnow Photography channel.