Covering Women in the Military

In 2010, the Navy opened submarines to women. As I wrote for AOL News:

For someone who never served in the military, I’ve walked a lot of miles of Pentagon corridors and eaten in more DFACs than is good for anybody. During more than two decades as a correspondent for USA TODAY, including a long stint at the Pentagon, and now reporting and writing for AOL News, I have chronicled the ups and downs of women warriors.

Whether sharing a tent with female helicopter pilots during the Kosovo War or interviewing a female MP “attached” to a combat unit in Iraq, I was privileged to be able to document the advances made by women in the military.

Fort Stuart, Ga., 1997

Like the photo? That’s me in the my early Pentagon reporting days — before I realized public affairs officers weren’t supposed to provide reporters with a personalized BDU (battle dress uniform). This was taken at Fort Stuart, Ga., where I went to profile the new generation of female commanders, incuding a female colonel who tucked a pistol under her pillow while sleeping in a tent out in the field.

Read the story about my 20 years covering the evolution of a more (but not perfectly) equal armed forces. The headline said it all: For Women in Military, a Long Slog Toward Acceptance.

21st Century Women Journalists

In late 2011, I was honored to be interviewed about my career by a student in School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa. The project involved many of my fellow Journalism & Women Symposium members and together form a valuable archive for women considering a career in the Fourth Estate. Read what I had to say here and check out the other interviews on the JAWS website.

National Women’s History Museum Investigation 2012

My love of history has fueled my interest in museums over the years and has led to some of the most interesting stories I’ve written. In 2011, I did an article on the National Women’s History Museum and its efforts to placate conservatives in Congress.

I went on to cover other things but carried some nagging questions as to why the project, which had been talked about for more than a decade, seemed stalled. Those questions led to a two-month investigation by myself and Huffington Post colleague Christina Wilkie.  Our search of internal documents and public records, along with interviews with NWHM staff, board members, charity watchdogs and even Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, the museum’s most prominent supporter, revealed a history of mismanagement and potential conflicts of interest.

You can read our story here. It would soon prompt doubts from Congress and financial supporters but it also lit a fire under the museum’s board. Two months after our investigation ran, NWHM announced a series of changes in response to our findings.

I spoke about the investigation to Megan Kamerick of KUMN, New Mexico public radio. Check it out here.

Women Warriors and PTSD 2008

The Iraq War was starting to wind down when I traveled to California to meet the first all-Iraq-war-veteran class at the Women’s Trauma Recovery Program at the VA’s residential treatment center in Menlo Park. I found another troubled legacy of war: women warriors not only suffering from battlefield stress but also haunted by another demon: military sexual trauma. It was one of the most memorable, and troubling, cover stories I ever wrote for USA TODAY. You can read it here.

I also went on CNN’s This Week at War to talk to host Tom Foreman about the mental toll on women troops and how the Pentagon was struggling to adapt. You can read what I had to say toward the end of the segment here.

The Politics of Gay Adoption 2006

I’ve covered various fronts in the culture wars over the years. In 2006, one of the hot buttons was the move by more than a dozen states to ban adoption by gay parents.

In this story for USA TODAY, I told the story of an Ohio same-sex couple forced to go to Oregon to adopt an abused child that no one else wanted. I also explained here the political underpinnings of why at least 16 states wanted to put measures on the ballot that year.

My stories caught the attention of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, which invited me on to talk with host Lynn Neary on others about the issue.  You can read the transcript here and listen here.

‘The Death of the Newspaper?’

Al Jazeera English asked me to do its show, Inside Story Americas, to talk about the changing media landscape — something I happen to know a little bit about. It was a good discussion with Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi and Clay Shirky, a new media expert who teaches at New York University. Anand Naidoo was our host.

You can watch it here.