Helen Thomas 2000
Hearst NewspapersHelen Thomas has been a pioneer throughout her career in journalism. She has gone from copy girl to White House correspondent where, for 40 years, she has covered presidents and -- as she likes to put it -- history every day. She also was among the Washington newswomen who worked to open the doors of press organizations closed to them. She became the first woman officer of the National Press Club after it agreed to admit women as members; the first woman president of the White House Correspondents Association and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club and later its first woman president in 1993.
As White House bureau chief for United Press International from 1974 to 2000, she was the first woman to have the privilege of asking the first question at presidential news conferences. Later, UPI and Associated Press alternated on asking the first and second questions. She became the first woman reporter to close a presidential news conference in 1961 during John F. Kennedy's first term with the traditional ``Thank you, Mr. President.''
Thomas began her career as a copy girl on the old Washington Daily News, joining UPI in 1943 as a radio writer and filing the Washington City news wire designed as a tip service for news bureaus and government offices in the nation's capital. She later covered the Justice Department, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, now Health and Human Services and a score of smaller agencies. She began covering Kennedy in the 1960 campaign and was permanently assigned to the White House in 1961. She resigned from UPI in May 2000 and is now a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.
A graduate of Wayne State University, she has received 30 honorary degrees, including honors from Wayne State, Brown University, Skidmore College and Michigan State University.
Her awards include the National Press Club's 4th Estate Award; the Columbia University Journalism Award, the International Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the Missouri School of Journalism Award, the Peter Zenger Award, the Hearst Newspapers' Bob Considine Award and the Society of Professional Journalists first life-time award.