Helen Thomas

UPI and Hearst Newspaper, United States.

Helen Thomas (1920-2013) was the first woman to serve as White House bureau chief and to be elected president of the White House Correspondents Association. She worked tirelessly throughout the 1960s to open the National Press Club to women and, once it did, became the club’s first female officer.

Thomas is known for her direct and hard-hitting questions at presidential press conferences and enjoys enormous respect from politicians and colleagues alike. As a White House correspondent, Thomas traveled around the world with six different presidents. She was the only print journalist to travel with President Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972.

Thomas bagan with United Press International, or UPI, in 1943 and worked on several beats around Washington D.C. and the federal government before moving to the White House in 1961 as a member of the UPI team covering the President Kennedy. She covered every aspect of the White House and the Presidency, including Watergate scandal, Iran-Contra affair and Whitewater controversy.

She served as President of the Women’s National Press Club in 1959, and later she was the first female officer in the National Press Club and in the White House Correspondents Association when their doors were opened to women.

In July 2000, Thomas joined Hearst Newspapers as a bi-weekly columnist writing on national issues. She retired from Hearst Newspapers on June 7, 2010, following controversial comments she made about Israel, Jews and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

She received numerous accolades for her work including Newspaper Woman of Washington from the American Newspaper Woman’s Club, and journalism awards from several universities including Columbia University.

She wrote six books, including a memoir published in 1999. The last one, with co-author Craig Crawford, was Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009).

Helen Thomas is the fourth IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award winner from the United States, following Katharine Graham (1994), Nan Robertson (1993) and Barbara Walters (1992). Awardees after Thomas include: Meg Greenfield (1996), Nancy Woodhull (1997), Bonnie Angelo (1998), Peggy Peterman (1999), Flora Lewis (2000), Colleen “Koky” Dishon (2001), Mary McGrory(2002), Belva Davis (2004), Molly Ivins (2005) and Edith Lederer (2008).

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