15 Contemporary Women Journalists That Everyone Should Read
From journalists being shouted down at campaign rallies to reporters getting punched in the face, there is definitely no love lost between members of the news media and a Donald Trump-led government. But while it’s not a reporter’s job to stay in the good graces of the White House, it is their job to ask tough questions, demand honest answers, and report stories honestly and diligently to their citizens — things that all of the contemporary women journalists on the list below do well. Across the world journalists risk their safety and their lives to report the news; they immerse themselves in the homes and lives and successes and struggles of others; they bear witness to the toughest moments in history; and they advance our understanding of who we are and how we live, who other people are and how they live, and what we all have in common.
Although underrepresented for generations, women journalists have taken the reporting world by storm — from early greats like immersion writer Nellie Bly and critical essayist Joan Didion, to the women writing from the front-lines of war, politics, science, and culture today, the stories we tell wouldn’t be half of what they are without the women reporters writing them.
Check out these 15 contemporary women journalists that everyone should read.
1. Svetlana Alexievich, author of ‘Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets’
Winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich, is the author of Soviet and post-Soviet oral history collections like War's Unwomanly Face, Voices from Chernobyl, Zinky Boys, and her Nobel-winning Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets. Zeroing in on the personal anecdotes of everyday citizens who have survived everything from global wars to nuclear disasters, Alexievich’s work most often focuses on the unique experiences of women and girls during times of national conflict.
2. Ann Jones, author of ‘War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War’
Another journalist who takes on the stories of women in girls living in current and former war zones is Ann Jones, author of War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War and several other works of investigative reportage that concern women's rights and humanitarian issues around the world. She has written extensively from Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, blending photography with narrative in order to tell not only stories of conflict, but the equally (sometimes more) important stories of what happens to the remains of a society in the aftermath of violence.
3. Jessica Valenti, author of ‘The Purity Myth’
American blogger, feminist writer, and current columnist for The Guardian, Jessica Valenti, founded the award-winning blog Feministing.com and writes about all things female-forward. She’s the author of books like Full Frontal Feminism, Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth about Parenting and Happiness, her recent memoir Sex Object, and her 2009 title The Purity Myth, which explores how female sexuality is addressed in the media, in schools, and by the government in today’s America.
4. Jane Mayer, author of ‘Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right’
Jane Mayer is an American investigative journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker, as well as the author of last year’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, which takes a close look not only at the controversial Koch brothers, but at an entire American network of wealthy conservative libertarians who use their money to direct the activities of government, academic institutions and think tanks, and even the U.S. presidency.
5. Lynsey Addario, author of ‘It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War’
Photographer and writer Lynsey Addario chronicles her experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, the Congo, Libya, Somalia, and countless other spaces of conflict and violence in her 2015 memoir It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War. Telling the story of what it means to break ranks in a largely male-dominated profession, in order to capture the kinds of photographs that will take every day citizens inside the realities of war zones around the world, It’s What I Do will remind you what it means to be on the front lines of journalism.
6. Jill Filipovic, author of ‘The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness’
Progressive feminist author, a political reporter, and Cosmopolitan magazine contributor Jill Filipovic’s recent book tackles a subject that pretty much every woman has thought about at one time or another: their own happiness — who deserves it, how to get it, and what other’s will say once you have it. The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness shares the stories of everyday American women who struggle with the ways that gender often informs happiness and those allowed to pursue it.
7. Samar Yazbek, author of ‘The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria’
In 2011, as the Assad regime was targeting journalists, reporter and television writer Samar Yazbek was forced to flee her Syrian homeland — making telling Syria’s story more important than ever. In the years since, Yazbek has continued to sneak back in and out of Syria, bearing witness to the violence and suffering of her country. In The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria, Yazbek traces the story of modern Syria: from first demonstrations for democracy, to the beginning of the Free Syrian Army, to the arrival of ISIS, offering readers an on-the-ground perspective on daily life in Syria amidst incomparable social and political upheaval, and near-constant violence.
8. Elizabeth Kolbert, author of ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’
Elizabeth Kolbert is an American journalist, environmental commentator for The New Yorker magazine, and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, published in 2014. The Sixth Extinction uses modern science to compare past global extinctions with the climate change we’re witnessing today, demonstrating Kolbert’s argument that our planet is currently in a modern, man-made period of extinction — terrifying, tragic, and enormously important.
9. Jo Piazza, author of ‘How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage’
Jo Piazza, author of How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage, has written six other books as well as reporting for publications like The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, The New York Times, and Slate. How to Be Married is her latest title, which takes readers into marriages around the world — and into Piazza’s own — in pursuit of advice, perspective, and humor on how exactly to survive “until death do you part.”
10. Naomi Klein, author of ‘No Is Not Enough Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need’
Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine covered the exploitative practices of "disaster capitalism", covering everything from the Great Depression to the World Bank, and inviting readers to think deeply and differently about how money is spent around the world and what kinds of policies that spending actually supports. The groundbreaking title This Changes Everything tackles "disaster capitalism" again, this time as it pertains to — and directly influences — climate change. Now, Klein's latest title No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need explores how we got to where we are today, and offers readers a road map for resistance. Read all of them.
11. Anabel Hernández, author of 'Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers'
“Bad” dudes and hombres aside, there is truth to the dangers facing Mexico and the U.S./Mexico borderlands as a result of the international drug trade. Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández is a reporter who has not only risked her life, but the lives and safety of her family members as well, in order to report on what’s really happening in the narcotics trade in Mexico. Her 2014 title, Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers, describes the history of Mexican drug cartels and demonstrates that their corruption and violence is far more widespread — even into high levels of Mexican government — than reports claim.
12. Ann Fessler, author of ‘The Girls Who Went Away’
In the 30 years before Roe v. Wade, a least 1.5 million women chose to, or were more often forced to, give their babies up for adoption — a shame-filled and devastating experience, whether it occurred by choice or not, that these women almost universally experienced alone, enforcing a double standard that still resonates through American gender politics today. Author Ann Fessler's was one such adopted baby, and her award-winning book, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade, shares the stories of hundreds of women who went through the same heart-wrenching experience Fessler’s own birth mother went through.
13. Anna Badkhen, author of ‘Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan’
Writer Anna Badkhen has reported from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya, and more, authoring five books to-date, including Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan. Available only as an e-book, Waiting for the Taliban follows the war correspondent into Northern Afghanistan, where she returned after the Taliban had taken power. This collection of personal journaling and reportage includes Badkhen’s dispatches from three weeks of daily coverage in the region, in 2010.
14. Jenny Nordberg, author of 'The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan'
Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg first started writing about women in Afghanistan in 2010. Her story about the bacha posh practice of dressing girls as boys so they can travel through Afghanistan unaccompanied by a male family member, earn money for their families, or go to school, made the front page of the New York Times. Since then, she has published a book of reportage on the same story. The Underground Girls of Kabul is a terrifying and inspiring collection of stories told through the profiles of young girls who practice bacha posh, and women who have had to leave the bacha posh life behind.
15. Arianna Huffington, author of 'Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder'
We all know the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, a woman who was central to revolutionizing online media and the habits of those who consume it. She is the author of a shelf-full of books, including her most-recent title The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, and the 2014 Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. Both explore burnout and stress-related illnesses, helping readers to redefine their metrics for success and strive toward more balanced, healthy living.