Diana Henriques

Let’s acknowledge that we are part of a long, long fight to establish gender equality, and we are one tiny wedge in one elite corner of the developed world that is making some progress, and we’ve got a long, long way to go.

— Diana Henriques

Diana Henriques

When Diana Henriques stepped foot at the 2011 JAWS conference, the initial thought crossing her mind was, “Where has this been all my life?” She had come to speak about her newly published book, but she found a warm fellowship of women journalists who encountered similar challenges in their careers and could identify with her experiences. This feeling of affirmation led her to return and serve on the advisory board. As an active member of various journalism organizations, she noted that what distinguishes JAWS from other groups is that members feel comfortable requesting and offering help to one another.

As a youngster in Roanoke, Virginia, Diana visited a newsroom and became enamored by journalism’s combustion of vitality and camaraderie: “I just had stars in my eyes.” From that point forward, her consummate desire for knowledge was directed toward her dream of becoming a journalist. She considered her career as a “journey” and put her nose to the grindstone rather than focus on where she might eventually land. The professional path was sometimes filled with cobblestones, as gender norms and prejudices closed off routine ways of interacting with sources. Trying to find alternative ways to report, she patiently began poring over abstruse official documents in the pursuit of uncovering truth. The skills she developed elevated her to full-time reporting at The New York Times, where she covered business and white-collar crime for more than 20 years. The news industry acknowledged her reporting prowess with two-time finalist nominations for the Pulitzer and other major awards such as the Loeb, Polk, Worth Bingham and the Goldsmith. Aside from the accolades, though, what remain her pride points are that her news stories triggered policy changes and she was able to author several books. Her most recent publication on Bernie Madoff called “The Wizard of Lies” pivoted her role from full-time journalist to book author and contributing writer for The New York Times.

The oral history interviews took place on October 26 and 27, 2013, at the JAWS camp in Essex, Vermont. Diana mentioned that she had traveled extensively over the past years for her book, and the media training was evident in her impeccable self-presentation. She continually exuded her passion for journalism and analytically reflected on her professional experiences. From our conversation, it was clear that she had devoted much thought into her career each step of the way.

( This interview was conducted by Youn-Joo Park )