Anchor. The word evokes the heft and weightiness needed to secure a vessel. In television news, an anchorperson must ''hook'' the audience, and make them pay attention -- ideally stopping all other activity to focus on the messenger of the news. In America, there's a strong tradition of male news anchors -- Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather -- perched at their ''electronic hearths,'' detailing America's history. Jonathan Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted: ''Anchors are the journalistic rocks; the news washes over them and then recedes.''
Today, women are visible in every area of television news -- even in the hallowed evening news anchor chair. But, their presence in broadcasting has been hard-fought and continues to present unique challenges. From Barbara Walters' varied career that spans more than half a century, to Katie Couric's historic appointment as the sole anchor of the CBS Evening News, viewers have come to rely on these professionals to relay historic events. When war breaks out, we expect flak-jacketed, cerebral and world traveling CNN broadcaster Christiane Amanpour to update us. Diane Sawyer and Lesley Stahl have worked on television for years, cultivating their reputations as savvy newswomen. In fact, some of the top newswomen are as famous as the guests they interview, and they have worked decades to get where they are. Allentonian Richard Albert remembers vividly his classmate at the University of Pennsylvania, Andrea Mitchell, who he said in the mid 1960s ''was very passionate about radio'' and worked 24/7 at the university's radio station, WXPN. It was, he notes, ''very unusual for a woman at the time.''