Journalism is not a job for the faint-hearted nor for those seeking only money and fame. Any journalist will attest to that. Despite these difficulties, you will still find bold, inspired journalists who have dedicated their lives to relentlessly exposing vices. From corruption to wars to unraveling scandals in political arenas, outstanding journalists often are the first whistle-blowers on the scene.
Being a journalist calls for a high sense of responsibility to ensure the provision of truthful information to the masses. Journalists possess unquantifiable skills to implement in their field of professionalism.
As such, it’s virtually impossible to confine the world’s best journalists to a tiny single list; nonetheless, here are ten men and women who have brought dynamic stories into the world of news. Many of them continue to positively influence the profession.
Table of Contents
Robert Fisk — Accessing the Inaccessible
The Independent’s leading Middle East Correspondent, Robert Fisk is a native of Britain whose global travels have been reported throughout the world. He is an award-winning journalist. Plus, he authored several books about his career in journalism.
Though his career spans more than 20 years, Fisk continues to shine in the field as an awesome journalist. He has won the British Press Awards International Journalist of the year seven times. Furthermore, he is one of the few Western journalists to interview Osama bin Laden — he actually did so three times.
Fisk shows great courage in many of his reporting efforts. He consistently seeks information, following his gut to access notoriously inaccessible places and figures. His notable coverage includes the Persian Gulf wars, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Robert Fisk.
Christiane Amanpour — Reporting from Around the World
Having earned all major television journalism awards, Christiane Amanpour understands the makings of an awesome journalist. She is currently the global relations reporter for ABC News in the US as well as the Chief International Correspondent for CNN. On the latter program, she holds internationally significant interviews.
Christiane understands the makings of an awesome journalist. She is currently the global relations reporter for ABC News in the US as well as the Chief International Correspondent for CNN. On the latter program, she holds internationally significant interviews.
Her journalistic career boost came about three decades ago when upon interviewing Egyptian President Mubarak. She was the only journalist entrusted to manage the task. She went on to interview Muammar Ghadafi during the Arab Spring. Given her reputation, Amanpour is said to have a massive following by world leaders on Twitter.
Due to her unique reports, she earned prestigious broadcast awards. This collection includes four Peabody Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, and the Courage in Journalism Award. She also holds nine separate honorary degrees and membership in the Queen of England’s Order of the British Empire.
Furthermore, Amanpour is a member of several committees. She is part of the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Center for Public Integrity. Moreover, she is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of the Press and the Safety of Journalists. Her own experiences have often crossed lines of controversy and personal safety. Thus, her positions in these committees showcase the importance of her role in the community.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Christiane Amanpour.
Diane Sawyer — Trailblazing for Women in Journalism
A true trailblazer for women in journalism, Diane Sawyer was the first female correspondent on 60 Minutes. She also anchored ABC World News until her retirement in 2014. Her latest endeavor is interviewing high-profile individuals, including an exclusive with Caitlyn Jenner, for ABC News.
Sawyer began her journalism career at a time of minimal female empowerment in the field. Her first title was “weather girl” at a local station in Kentucky. However, she made her way out of the newsroom, after years of clawing to a co-anchor position, into the White House. She served as a press assistant under President Nixon until his resignation. Though she and other members of his administration were blacklisted in the news world, she made her way back on-air in 1978 as a correspondent.
She tackled some of the most complicated issues of the century in newly crafted ways like interviews in long-form and detailed investigations. Sawyer traversed the globe, aspiring to deliver the best in investigative news. Her work often involved meetings with the majority of the globe noisemakers of the time.
Ultimately, Sawyer continually generates stories revolving around every day Americans. Her documentaries gather significant acclaim for their considerable role of shedding light on complicated and previously unreported issues. For example, she revealed the real state of poverty in America and as well as the inner-workings of foster care. She also published a documentary on how hardworking women faced workplace harassment. In this unique feature, she cited possible solutions to the menace with the hope of restoring equality and safety for all.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Diane Sawyer.
Veronica Guerin — Protecting the Rights of Outstanding Journalists
A courageous Irish investigative journalist, Veronica Guerin worked the crime beat for several years. Sadly, at only 36 years of age, drug barons killed her. She was well-known for her bravery and audacity to expose drug and crime lords in Dublin. Additionally, her story inspired two movies, a biography, and numerous songs.
Guerin’s style of reporting was unique. Rather than working from an office, she worked from her car. She even camped on the doorsteps of those she intended to interview. Moreover, she did not just rely on police reports for crime; Guerin notoriously talked to criminals, following leads to get the most detailed information. Even while reporting on crime rings and happenings, she kept her sources anonymous.
Commitment to her work offered recognition. Guerin was named one of the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Heroes. Her death awakened the people and the government to the serious crimes of Ireland. In the aftermath, the Irish parliament formed the Criminal Assets Bureau, allowing the government to seize assets obtained with crime-based money.
Although Guerin only got six years to be an awesome journalist, her legacy remains strong. Nations everywhere mourned her loss. They also stepped up the protection they offered journalists. Today, you can see her name, along with 38 others from 1996 alone, on the Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Veronica Guerin.
Hu Shuli — Whistle-Blowing through Journalism
Considered a muckraker, Hu Shuli is a Chinese journalist and primary holder in Caixin Global media outlet. She serves as the editor-in-chief of Caixin Media. Prior to her current work with Caixin, she founded Caijing. The magazine was based in Beijing and focused on business. Her work was investigative in nature, highlighting fraud and corruption in a nation with tight media restraints.
Shuli began her career as a reporter in 1982. Gradual advancements saw her become an international editor and as well as a chief reporter at the China Business Times. She is often referred to as the most dangerous woman in China because of her bold reporting. Despite press restrictions in China, she pushes publications ranging from exposés on deceitful businesses to corporate bribery to criticism of government policies.
She ranked as one of Time’s Top 100 Influential People in 2011. Furthermore, Shuli holds several international awards for her achievements in journalism. Today, she is a member of the International Women’s Media Foundation and an advisor to the Global Center for Journalists.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Hu Shuli.
Stacey Dooley — Navigating Controversy
Stacy Dooley is an awesome journalist out of the UK. She works with the BBC on investigative documentaries, forming a “brand” of compassionate investigative reporting. She is also cherished for her television show, Stacey Dooley Investigations.
Though her work is investigative, her style creates controversy. Dooley covers sensitive subjects, including her famous exposé on Indian sweatshops. However, her talent to waltz in and ask sensitive questions nonchalantly has been challenged. Of note, Dooley’s fame began with the documentary Blood, Sweat and T-shirts. That led to three BBC documentaries in 2009 alone.
Despite humble beginnings as a stop assistant and disclaiming the title of “journalist,” Dooley is very active in the field. Dooley travels across the globe covering significant situations, and she reveals terrors happening to encourage oppressive entities to stop their horrific acts. Her most important role is documenting significant stories. Hopefully, her actions will help bring the needed change in the world.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Stacey Dooley.
Nellie Bly — Pioneering Investigative Journalism
Elizabeth Jane Cochran, who went by the pen name Nellie Bly, was a remarkable female journalist of the late 1800s. Many consider her a pioneer in the field not only for women but for investigative journalism as a whole. Much of her famous work was published in the New York World.
Bly’s life had several turns and twists. While she started her education to become a teacher, financial crisis forced her to return home. While there, she worked with her mother to run a boarding school. In fact, her start in journalism came out of the blue. She wrote an open letter to the editor at Pittsburgh Dispatch about the paper’s negative depiction of women. The editor ran it and offered Bly a columnist position. Sadly, there was a downside to being limited to writing about women and for women.
Nonetheless, Bly made her way to New York in 1887 and insisted on writing investigative stories. Despite the rejection of her ideas at first, she accepted the challenge of investigating the treatment of patients in Blackwell’s Island, a mental asylum. She posed as a patient and exposed the horrible treatment people endured there. From that point, she established her name in the industry.
After gaining popularity, Bly went on to fly around the world in 72 days (a shortly held world record). She then settled down, married, and went on to run her husband’s company after her death. Interestingly, she even patented oil manufacturing inventions that are still in use. When Women’s Suffrage rolled into the US, she returned to reporting. Bly also covered stories about World War I.
Bly’s techniques provided the foundation for firsthand accounts from journalists. Now deemed investigative journalism, her work was truly foundational.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Nellie Bly.
Katharine Graham — Bolstering Investigative Journalists
Not only was Katharine Graham a famous American female journalist, she was also America’s first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. While she did inherit her company, The Washington Post, she was responsible for hard-hitting stories. Her most famous Post publications are the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. Graham, a journalist, publisher, and business leader, brought unforeseen dynamics to the publishing world.
From an early age, Graham (maiden name Meyer) was interested in writing and publishing. As a high school student, she worked on her student newspaper. She then completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, working summers with her father at The Post. After a short stint in San Francisco as a reporter, she married and traveled the world during World War II.
Though Graham’s father “sold” the business to her and her husband in 1948, she chose a home-focused life to raise her children. Nonetheless, after tragic circumstances, in September 1963, she became the president of the company. While she had maintained close contact with the post during her time as a stay-at-home mother, she was inclined to re-learn all of The Post’s operations. Under her direction, the paper became one of the top two in the nation.
The Washington Post, while still active in political circles, saw its hay-day under Graham’s leadership. Political leaders and civilians alike read it for the forthright stories as well as the general news of Washington, DC, advice pieces, and cartoons. Upon her death in 2001, Graham had mass media coverage. World leaders, including Noor AL Hussein, Nancy Reagan, and Henry Kissinger, delivered publicized eulogies. Her ultimate contribution to journalism and society was a rare ability to maintain friendships in spite of political differences.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Katharine Graham.
Khadija Ismayilova — Uniting Journalism and Activism
Working to exposed political corruption through investigative journalism, Khadija Ismayilova is both a journalist and a human rights activist. Her work with numerous media outlets includes those in the Middle East and Europe, as well as in America. For her efforts, she received The Right Livelihood Award.
She is perhaps most famous for uncovering the business and political activities of the oil production nation Azerbaijan. In 2009, she began digging into what she suspected was corruption. What she found broke open a story involving bribery between nations, human rights violations, and political scandal.
While Ismayilova’s work showcases some of the best investigative journalism in the world, she has suffered for it. Sadly, after the Azerbaijan story, she endured many forms of harassment and smear campaigns. She even faced imprisonment from September 2015 to May 2016. Despite all of this, she continues to seek knowledge and truth for people.
Her work includes exposing human rights violations throughout the Middle East and collaborations with organizations fighting for civil liberties. She also continues to publish investigative pieces about Azerbaijan, including one about political prisoners held
Currently, her efforts are being thwarted once again. She is on legal orders to not travel by the Baku Court of Appeal. Additionally, they have attempted to limit her voice by banning her professional activity for up to two years. Nonetheless, Ismayilova persists. She demonstrates the true courage it takes to publish honest articles and act as a watchdog for the people.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Khadija Ismayilova.
Peter Jennings — Becoming America’s Commentator
Considered America’s Commentator, Peter Jennings served as the anchor World News Tonight for ABC for years. He was a great broadcaster who made extensive reports on breaking news from around the globe. His journalistic efforts made him a household name and an idol in broadcast journalism.
Starting with ABC, he quickly made his way to being the youngest network news anchor. Later, he moved into foreign correspondence. By covering ground-breaking stories and running “marathon reports,” Jennings became a part of history.
His career was marked by coverage of the civil rights movement in South Africa, the Russian Federation (of which he was a few select journalists reporting from Vietnam), the attacks on the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Iran hostage crisis. He notoriously covered many stories from the heart of their occurrences.
Jennings was also tasked with reporting on the tragic Challenger explosion. The first of several “marathon reports,” he remained on-air for 11 hours that day. In December 1999, he famously broadcasted ABC 2000 from New Year’s eve through the end of Jan. 1, 2000. For 25 hours, Jennings was watched by an estimated 175 million people.
Jennings also co-authored two books with Todd Brewster, a Senior Editorial Producer at ABC. The Century (1998) covers the events of the 1900s from the first Wright Brothers flight to hearing the first radio signal to both World Wars and beyond. The book was also part of a documentary series that aired on ABC. In 2002, the duo published In Search of America. It lays out American principles sought in the new millennium.
Outstanding Journalist: Read about Peter Jennings.