5 influential women in British journalism

When compiling this list, researching all the inspiring women that have used their career as a platform for moving young women and journalists, it was incredibly difficult to value one person’s career over another. However, somehow, I have condensed the list to just 5 influential, female journalists, their achievements and why they stand out above the rest.

As every overly dramatic voice over mentions: these results are in no particular order.

Kate Adie

Katie Adie did not start out the way most budding journalists do and her degree at Newcastle University of Scandinavian studies supports this, but somehow she found herself joining the BBC in 1986 as a studio technician. But years later, in 1980, she found her calling at a siege at the Iranian embassy, which brought her centre stage as a women who wasn’t the kind to shy away from dangerous and daring stories at that time, through purely chance.

In the business, as they say, people are valued through their determination and ruthlessness to get to the top, especially (I hate to say) for women, but Adie is an example of a women of bravery and determination that has not necessarily had to push people down to gain her respect in the industry and her many awards, including an OBE in 1993 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. Furthermore, Adie hasn’t followed the status quo and in 1989 she left the position of Chief News Correspondent of the BBC, criticising the process of hiring women for their “cute faces and cute bottoms and nothing else in between”, as written in an article for the Daily Mail.

Katie Adie is a role model for all aspiring journalists, using her status to demand change rather than complacency and this list would not be credible without her.

Mary Stott

Mary Stott, to put it simply, was a woman way ahead of her time, and was one of the leading campaigning journalists from 1957-1972.

According to the Guardian, part of her strength amongst her following of female and even male readers was her “belief that any discrimination was a total sin”, and she believed in equality for women without demeaning or bashing the other half. However, despite her beliefs and values, she was sacked in 1950 from Manchester Evening News in order to conserve the male succession to the position of chief sub-editor.

But this only stopped her advancing in her career for 7 years in which she lived a life of domesticity and in 1957 she became the editor of the Guardian’s Women’s page. It was then that she shone in her career, neglecting pretentiousness to become simply a women that provided solidarity for other women and understanding the mundane, everyday problems women at that time or even any time faced, which allowed her to rapidly build a direct bond with her readers.

Researching about the life and achievements of Mary Stott not just in her professional life but also her personal life resonated with myself in such a way that Mary Stott is not just an influential journalist but an influential individual.

Lindsey Hilsum

As with many of the women in this compilation, Lindsey Hilsum began her career not directly in journalism but as an aid worker in Central America and Africa, and was a freelance journalist for many years. What struck me as captivating about Hilsum was her willingness to report a story despite the difficulties that lay ahead.


In an interview with Women in Foreign Policy, Hilsum recalled the story she was most proud of being covered as the siege in Jenin in 2002. Hilsum and her camera man only had an hour to cover the story, but they were able to uncover the destruction and murder the Israelis sought to hide, and got the story out before anyone else knew what was going on.

In a society that is becoming more obsessed with the news of the rich and famous, it is easy to forget the suffrage and monstrosity that lies beyond our small island and journalists like Hilsum value the truth over the glory.

Hala Jaber

Despite the many awards the British-Lebanese journalist, Hala Jaber has won such as: Amnesty International Journalist of the Year Award (2003) and the Foreign Correspondent of the year award (2005, 2006 and 2012), her life has not always been swimming in spectacular success. She has lost her faith in God, an important part of the Arab culture in which she grew up in and the hope of starting a family with her husband, and more notably in her working life, she was surrounded in controversy after the Bashar al-Assad leaks in 2015.

Despite all of these things that have defined Jaber as a person and the tough skin she developed as a foreign correspondent in Iraq, she did not lose touch with the most important thing a human being can possess, sensitivity. In an interview with The Scotsman, she made reference to her book, “The Flying Carpet to Baghdad”, and a touching story of two young girls whom she came into contact with and who have made an imprint on her life despite her best wishes.

To go into detail of the story would be to leave important details out so I thoroughly recommend and strongly suggest you read the Scotsman interview she gave, if Jaber has made an impression on you the same way she has with me, but there is no doubt that Hala Jaber is a top 5 influential female British journalist.

Sue Lloyd-Roberts

Sue Lloyd Roberts was, in the words of BBC Director-General Tony Hall, “simply a remarkable woman who got remarkable stories.” 

Up until the very last period of her life, she was still paying credit to her label of a “pioneer video journalist” by blogging the stages of her diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia, running a public appeal to find a donor.


However, this is by no means the limits of her extraordinary career that she worked for, which could be compared to a one woman show. In the beginning, she saw that women were given the “pretty” jobs: covering stories of the Chelsea flower show or the Royals, whereas Lloyd-Roberts was passionate about campaigning, journalism and human rights, which was not easy to do alone.

But, the introduction of handheld video cameras allowed someone like Sue to travel alone to countries that were wary of issuing visas to film crews such as the Soviet Union, which opened up her career in the direction she chose to take.

She travelled to Zimbabwe, India, Lebanon and Syria, using the acting she had loved as a child, to be a “60 year old university don who had no idea there was a war going on at all”, a clothes manufacturer, a deaf drivers sister, any role that would secure her being able to report stories that mattered to her such as female genital mutilation and exposing human rights abuses.


Her work did not go unnoticed and she received recognition through her MBE in 2002 and CBE in 2013, more importantly to her, she received the European Women of Achievement award in 1995, for giving susceptible and suppressed people a voice, where they were never allowed one.

Without people like Sue that care about issues many people aren’t aware of, journalism would be a less credible profession and her video logs for the Victoria Derbyshire programme are definitely something worth viewing if you want to know a woman that is a horcrux of inspiration.

What do you think? Who would you add to this list? Have your say in the comments section below.