Andrea Mitchell publishes an autobiography about “Talking Back”

Book review by Lauren Fabiszak

By positioning herself in front of world leaders and never taking no for an answer, journalist Andrea Mitchell solidifies the role of strong and intelligent female reporters in the United States. Since she has a duel role in the media industry as reporter and public figure, she has learned how to properly utilize and respond to the world of media around her. This is a review of her 2005 autobiography, Talking Back, where Mitchell explains her challenging transition from a kid reporter to scoring her dream job as Chief White House correspondent for NBC News.

Mitchell changed Journalism with her “talking back” (as she repeated several times in the novel), meaning she isnn’t afraid to ask the controversial questions that she feels the world needs answers to. For instance, she recounts the time when she met Syrian leader Hafez al Assad and was told several times beforehand to not ask him any questions. The first thing she then did when she walked into the room was proceed to ask him a question. “But before he could finish, I suddenly felt myself being lifted off the ground. With the cameras safely focused on the presidents, two burly Syrian security men had come up from behind, grabbed me under the elbows, and were carrying me out of the room. To my amazement, Assad continued to answer my question, but effectively, I was silenced”(171), Mitchell said. This exemplifies her stubborn and persuasive style that she uses to earn respect from all the politicians and world leaders she encounters.

The most surprising aspect of the book is Mitchell’s ability to balance her personal relationship with Alan Greenspan with her neutral integrity and obligations as a journalist. She says that she remains “on call” for whenever she has to cover a breaking news piece, which often means she has to unexpectedly cut her free time with loved ones short. Although Greenspan understands her fast-paced life, Mitchell often struggles between defining the line between home and work. However, Publishers Weekly criticized her tone in this part of the book by saying, “Even in the treatment of her marriage to Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, she maintains a mostly matter-of-fact tone about its unusual nature given their respective professions.”

The crazy stories that Mitchell shares with the reader makes it obvious that journalism isn’t the “easy career option” it’s often labeled as. By talking about her multiple experiences of dealing with unsanitary conditions, being sleep deprived and traveling relentlessly, she makes it clear that being pushy is the most secure way to get a desired result. Being as she overcame obstacles of sexism in her mainly male-dominant career field, she never lets anybody tell her that she can’t do something and never gives up until she get what she wants. I believe that as an aspiring Journalist myself, she teaches in this story how important it is to follow your heart and work hard to make your dreams a reality.

Mitchell has won many awards in her career, most notably the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism and RTNDA Leonard Zeidenberg Award. She is currently still on the air as the NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and the host of her own political show, “Andrea Mitchell Reports”. She’s not slowing down anytime soon, and she sums up at the end of her book, “there is so much joy and excitement in being a reporter, I often wonder how I got to be so lucky,” (369).

I found this book to be very interesting as a personal narrative, as well as a passionate journalist. I felt that she really makes it clear how powerful women can be in the news, while simultaneously possessing the ability to be that “doting wife” social culture places on women.”Talking Back” is available in paperback for $15 on amazon. com and is a must read for all aspiring journalists (especially female ones) and those interested in international affairs/political reporting.

Sources and Works Cited 

Mitchell, Andrea. Talking Back– to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.


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