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Dateline: White House. (1975)
By Robyn Johnson
The College of DuPage International Education office and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host a lecture by “First Lady of the Press” Helen Thomas on Thursday, April 5.
“Helen Thomas: The President and the Press…from JFK to George W.” will take place from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) Mainstage, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn.
A former White House Bureau Chief, Thomas has been covering presidential plights and progress for 57 years, since the “Camelot” administration of John F. Kennedy. During her work as White House correspondent for United Press International (UPI), Thomas has blazed the trail for women reporters and has left an indelible mark on U.S. journalism.
According to Thomas, over the past half-century, the relationship between the White House and White House press corps has moved through a “stunning evolution.” What was once considered a cooperative relationship has become something much more adversarial, with the current administration challenging specific media outlets for publishing and broadcast decisions. During her April 5 lecture, Thomas will discuss this relationship, its evolution and how the change has affected the quality of journalism in the United States.
Thomas’ career began in 1943 when she was hired by the UPI in Washington, D.C., to write “stories of interest to women.” She broke into political reporting in 1961, when she began filing stories about Jacqueline Kennedy and, subsequently, the Kennedy administration.
In 1970, Thomas became UPI's White House correspondent. Two years later, she was the only print journalist invited to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his historic trip to China.
Thomas has also traveled with presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush, and has covered every presidential economic summit ever held. In addition, she was the first woman officer of the National Press Club and the White House Correspondents Association, and was the first woman member of the Gridiron Club.
At the end of her first presidential press conference in 1961, Thomas said, “Thank you, Mr. President,” establishing a tradition that continues today. Thomas has written two books about her journalistic experiences, Dateline: White House and Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times. When she left UPI in 2000, Thomas was the senior ranking member of the White House press corps.
The April 5 program is offered free of charge to C.O.D. students, faculty and staff, who can obtain tickets with proper identification at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) box office, (630) 942-4000. Community members can reserve tickets by calling the Chicago Council at (312) 726-3860 or visiting: www.thechicagocouncil.org. The price is $10 for Chicago Council members and $15 for nonmembers.
For general information, call the C.O.D. International Education office, (630) 942-3079, or visit: www.cod.edu/academic/intled/.
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