Local media personalities: Barbara Walters, a trailblazing journalist

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Barbara Walters attends the TIME 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at the Frederick P Rose Hall, Time Warner Center, on April 21, 2015, in New York. –

Members of the local media and political fraternities paid tribute to veteran US broadcaster Barbara Walters on Saturday.

Walter, 93, died on Friday.

Among the notable personalities who Walters interviewed in her career were former US president Barack Obama, Cuban president Fidel Castro (deceased), Iraqi President Saddam Hosein (deceased) and pop superstar Michael Jackson (deceased).

Veteran journalist Neil Giuseppi said, “Barbara was a legendary newscaster. I met her in the late 1970s when, as Head of News at TTT (Trinidad and Tobago Television), I went on a three-week attachment to ABC. She was the co-anchor of the ABC Evening News at that time with Harry Reasoner.”

Giuseppi said it was a pleasure attending the daily planning meetings and watching how they put together the daily newscasts.

“I learnt so much from them. She was a true professional.”

Walters Barbara is seen after opening night on the ABC evening news with anchor partner Harry Reasoner, on October 4, 1976. (AP Photo, File) –

Another veteran journalist, Dominic Kalipersad said, “Walters made headlines in 1976 when she became the first woman to co-anchor an American evening network news programme. She was a trailblazer in the United States.”

Kalipersad said Walters’ death reminded him about a time in TT when there were many prominent female journalists.

“Her passing reminds me that in the ‘70s, too, there were female trailblazers in Trinidad and Tobago’s television landscape, like Salisha Ali. She was a groundbreaking journalist who became the main anchor on TTT’s flagship news programme, Panorama.”

He described Gail Bindley-Taylor, Hazel Ward-Redman and Melina Scott as other women who shared that distinction in the local media.

“We salute them all.”

Former Media Association of TT (MATT) president Sheila Rampersad said, “The absence of awe and the follow-up question. Those are among the contributions she (Walters) has made to modern journalism. Walters persevered and endured to cut roads for all female broadcast journalists in modern western journalism and possibly beyond that.”

Rampersad said Walters was an exceptional interviewer.

“Walters learnt and taught others from her experience of interviewing a wide array of world figures in business, politics, entertainment and many other spheres of human endeavour.”

Rampersad said, “In doing those hundreds of interviews, she remained without awe at anyone she faced.”

Walters, Rampersad continued, noted this many times in her career.

She also noted another hallmark of Walters’ style of journalism.

“The second question was more important than the first.”

Rampersad said the world should give thanks for Walters’ life

“May she answer her next question as well as she did this one.”

Independent Senator Paul Richards, who is a media practitioner, said Walters was a trailblazer, innovator, standard bearer and a good person.

“She changed mass media and gave women a space and opportunities they never had before at a level of presence that’s now become the norm.

Richards learnt invaluable lessons from the example set by Walters.

“I learned from her you can ask tough, relevant questions without being rude and obnoxious.”

Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga also weighed in on Walters’ contribution to journalism.

He said Walters is a benchmark for excellence in journalism.

“She was a example to many young women of success in a male-dominated industry.”

De Nobriga said Walters’ many iconic interviews over the decades of her career “were a template for generations of journalists to follow her and I suppose that is the greatest tribute anyone can receive, to be considered the standard in your profession.”

He was saddened that as 2022 drew to a close, the world lost three icons in Walters, Brazilian football star Pele and veteran calypsonian Leroy Calliste (Black Stalin).

De Nobriga said they were all great storytellers in their own ways.

“Storytelling through song, football and journalism. We should obviously grieve that loss but take joy in the lives that they lived, the examples they set and the legacy that their excellence built for us all.”