Columbia University School of Journalism

Christiane Amanpour, Diane Sawyer, Kathy Lee Gifford… If one of these ladies looks to be out of place, you would be right. Though women have been making significant strides in the field of journalism for many decades, the great majority struggles to receive the same level of professional recognition and respect as do their male counterparts. Then you have individuals like Kathy Lee Gifford who seemingly go out of their way to negate all the years of progress for which female reporters and correspondents have worked so hard. As such, it becomes all the more important that aspiring female journalists consider enrolling in the highest quality online universities and traditional school programs to repair the damage that pseudo journalists like Gifford have done.

Gifford has a long history of foot-in-mouth disease. Moreover, on more than one occasion she asked guests about deceased loved ones, only she didn’t know about it or bother to do any research regarding the person in question before bringing them up on live television.

Her most recent journalistic faux pas occurred last week while interviewing actor Martin Short about his role in the upcoming film, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Though not known if she was asking from a list of prepared questions or simply going off the cuff, Gifford asked Short about his long-lasting marriage to comic actress Nancy Dolman, unaware that Dolman had passed two years earlier after battling ovarian cancer. However, Short graciously answered Gifford’s questions to avoid any further awkwardness, but later informed her backstage of his wife’s death. Gifford consequently tweeted a public apology for her shortsighted error.

Granted, Gifford has producers who supply her with an arsenal of questions for each guest. Yet regardless of whether her misinformed handlers or her own ignorance is to blame, any serious journalist education at Columbia University or even in Colombia would do the work to either double-check the information given to them or to conduct the needed research if they decide to ask their own questions. Unfortunately for the many female journalists trying to make a name in the field, Gifford’s gaffe reflects poorly on all.

Studies have already shown that though more women than ever are part of the journalistic world, they are not necessarily considered hard-hitting reporters as are male members of the press. This is due in large part to the small number of women who contribute to matters such foreign affairs, the economy, and politics. Rather they stick to subjects such as family and marriage, which are typically viewed as “puff pieces,” or not important. Complicating the situation is when journalists such as Gifford can’t competently report even on those matters.

Yet individuals seeking a career in journalism needn’t give up hope of becoming a respected reporter. For every Kathy Lee Gifford there is a Barbara Walters or Cokie Roberts that would-be correspondents can look to as an example of what quality journalism is. Moreover, the path to a successful life in journalism can be that much easier with a firm foundation from a reputable college or online university. Even Kathy Lee’s faux pas can serve as a lesson for aspiring reporters. Let her mistake be your opportunity to strive for a name synonymous with superior journalism, thus ensuring that it will never be mentioned in the same breath as hers.