NORMAN — Sue Hale begged her Kansas newspaper editors to let her tackle the crime beat. They hesitated, fearing she couldn’t handle seeing the seedy side of journalism. Surely, a woman would cringe if she had to see a body, they reasoned. Even one tucked in a bag.
At a homicide scene, she lost track of her partner, a man who accompanied her. He had run away in fear. She found him hiding a few blocks away.
“I just can’t handle this,” he said. So much for the weaker sex.
Hale didn’t back down and spent a career in the rough-and-tumble world of newspaper and broadcast journalism where women were once routinely assigned to the society pages. She retired from a senior management position at The Oklahoman and now works with a journalism foundation created by Edith Kinney Gaylord.
“I really believe it took both the terrific gals who blazed the way and it took men who believed we could do it,” Hale said.
She was one of five pioneer Oklahoma journalists who discussed their lives and careers at the Oklahoma History Center Friday afternoon. It was a sidebar of sorts to Friday evening’s showing of “The Quiet Philanthropist: The Edith Gaylord Story,” at the Dead Center Film Festival. The film, which will be shown again today at 2 p.m. at the Fred Jones Theatre at Harkins, 150 E. Reno, chronicles Gaylord’s publishing family, her reporting for the Associated Press in Washington and the lifetime of charity that continues today through two foundations.
Local television news anchor Linda Cavanaugh always thought she would become a teacher like her father. She received a scholarship from the Oklahoma City Gridiron Club and decided to give journalism a try in college. She loved it.
“It was a whole different social strata for us back then,” she said. When opportunities presented, the women were ready. “We were prepared to step into these roles,” she said.