On Auditioning

I was never a big Barbara Walters fan. Sure, I’ve watched a number of her pre-Oscar interviews and have tuned in over the years as she interviewed various world leaders. But she always struck me as kind of a lightweight.

Imagine my surprise then as I found myself riveted to the TV when I accidentally came across Tim Russert interviewing Barbara Walters about her new memoir, “Audition.”

Walters was fascinating. She talked about the challenges she faced as the first female news co-anchor and candidly admitted she was lousy at the job. She also talked about the discrimination she faced as a woman in the workplace in the 1970s.

As a single mother, Walters had personal struggles. She spoke of these as well. She explained how supporting a child along with her parents and sister contributed to her career decisions. And there were references to work/life balance, including how difficult it was at times to maintain her professional demeanor while dealing with personal circumstances.

Of course her book is getting attention for the fact that she had an affair with a married man, who happened to be black. But personal tidbits aside, there does seem to be substance to her story, and information worth sharing.

From a professional standpoint, consider that Walters has interviewed every U.S. president since Nixon. Her longevity and tenacity are certainly admirable.

I haven’t yet read “Audition,” but the fact that I’m motivated to do so speaks, well, volumes. Amazon indicates that the book has gotten rave reviews from critics and other readers, and it’s noted for being well-written. Interestingly, Walters began her television career as a writer, though initially she was only assigned to write material for women.

Barbara Walters’ story, while maybe not a story of every woman, chronicles experiences that are likely to resonate with a lot of working women. As a result, “Audition” looks like a worthwhile addition to the SMW bookshelf.

Paula Santonocito

Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com