Tad Bartimus

I approached, in many ways, my assignment in Vietnam quite differently than a man. My colleagues will argue against that for themselves. For me, I became very interested in the collateral damage of war. And I thought that combat, I would go to combat. But that wasn’t my war. For me, it was the detritus left behind. And what happens there. And why this happens.

— Tad Bartimus

Tad Bartimus

A well-renowned journalist, Tad Bartimus made a name for herself at the AP where she was a war correspondent in Vietnam, a foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America and a special roving correspondent in the United States.

Tad began her extensive journalism career at the age of 15 at the Belton Star Herald when she interviewed President Harry Truman who was visiting Belton, Missouri, at the time. Tad continued to practice journalism and began simultaneously interning at the Kansas City Star while she obtained her degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1969. Just a few months later, Tad went to work for the AP bureau where she went on to be the first female bureau chief in 1974 and the first female special correspondent in 1990. That same year, she received a Missouri Honor Medal. During her time at the AP, Tad was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing in both 1989 and 1991. Then from 1993 to 1996, she began teaching journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 2008, Tad was the recipient of the Washington Press Club Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

One of these achievements was the founding of JAWS in 1985 alongside her husband, Dean Wariner. “The first three years, he and I ran [JAWS] out of our hip pocket,” Tad said. “We’re pretty proud that we did it.” Eventually Tad and Dean distanced themselves from the organization because they wanted the group to include women of all professions, not just women in journalism. “I think the power was in the broader base,” Tad said. “And the influence was in the broader base, and we could have learned as an organization how to have clout.” Today, however, Tad believes JAWS is growing and helping to empower women and give them the tools to be successful.

“I think JAWS is valuable,” Tad said. “I think it is necessary, and I think it needs to be much more vocal and much stronger, and I hope that happens. I think JAWS’ best days are ahead of it.”

This three hour oral history interview with Tad took place on May 24, 2014, at the Missouri School of Journalism. For the last hour of the interview, Tad’s husband, Dean, joined us. Dean, an accomplished reporter and photographer, was part of the JAWS history from the beginning and served as executive director of JAWS for two years. He conceived and drew the copyrighted shark with long eyelashes that became JAWS’ logo.

( This interview was conducted by Yong Volz )