Malvina Stephenson began working for the Tulsa World after receiving a master's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1936. Though she moved to Washington to cover the nation's capital in 1940, her relationship with the Tulsa World continued for over 50 years. In this oral history, she talks about her work as an early female reporter at the Tulsa World and in Washington.
In Washington, Stephenson established an independent news bureau, attended Roosevelt's funeral, witnessed the Watergate period, and served as Robert S. Kerr's press secretary (she would go on to write his official biography).
The interview took place in 1980 and concludes with a question from Danna Sue Walker on the future of journalism at that time:
Danna Sue Walker: There are so many changes in journalism today as far as newspapers everything is computerized where it didn’t used to be. Where do you think your field is going in the future? What changes do you think will be-
Malvina Stephenson: Do you mean from a mechanical standpoint?
DSW: Uhh, more or less how you gather the news or even how it will end up as a column.
MS: Well, of course that’s hard for me to say because I am not familiar with the technical side. I only hope I don’t get this computer mastered and then have to learn another one because it’s bad enough to write a story besides learning the computer. We hear all kinds of reports that newspapers will come out of a machine and into individual homes but I don’t think there will ever be any substitute for an inquiring mind and persistence and talent and writing. I think there are basic talents, no matter what kind of machine it’s fed in, I think these basic talents will always be required. I hope so.
The entire interview is available here.
Transcription provided by citizen archivist Jason (thanks, Jason!)
Photograph courtesty of the Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma