Frederick, Pauline (c. 1906–1990)

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Frederick, Pauline (c. 1906–1990)

American journalist, television and radio news reporter and analyst . Born in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, around 1906 (date of birth has been cited as late as 1920); died in Lake Forest, Illinois, on May 9, 1990; daughter and second of three children of Matthew P. (an official of the Pennsylvania State Department of Labor) and Susan (Stanley) Frederick; American University, B.A. in political science, M.A. in international law, Washington, D.C.

Pauline Frederick, a pioneering television journalist born around 1906 in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, was filing reports to newspapers in Harrisburg while still in high school. Though originally headed for law school, she was persuaded by a college history professor to try journalism instead. After receiving a B.A. in political science and M.A. in international law from American University, Frederick stayed in Washington to work as a freelance journalist for various newspapers and radio stations. During the late 1930s, she also did Washington interviews for the National Broadcasting Network (NBC). Her first big break came in 1945, when she became a globe-trotting war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance. She later covered the Nuremberg trials of Nazi officials and the "Big Four" conferences in New York and Paris.

In 1946, Frederick joined the news staff of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), where she had an early morning radio show and occasionally worked on the evening television news. Beginning in 1947, she shared the United Nations "beat" with commentator Gordon Fraser and, in 1948, covered the Democratic and Republican conventions, the presidential campaign, and the inauguration. During the 1950s, she covered the Korean War as well as the revolutions in Africa and the Middle East.

In June 1953, she rejoined NBC, where she ultimately became a star and the first woman to report serious television news. Frederick remained NBC's "man at the UN" for the next 21 years, appearing in a wide range of programs that included reporting, commentary, and interviews. Leaving NBC in 1974, one year past mandatory retirement age, Frederick bristled over having to quit: The networks "can accept a man who looks his age; but not a woman." She later joined National Public Radio as an international affairs analyst. During the election campaign of 1976, she moderated the debate between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Frederick received numerous honors for her trailblazing work, including the Alfred DuPont Award for "meritorious service to the American people." The 1953 citation praised Frederick for "avoiding the slickness, automatic orthodoxy and superficial sensationalism characteristic of much news commentary today … without making concessions to a vulgarization of either thought or style." She also received 23 honorary degrees and was the first woman to be elected president of the UN Correspondents Association. Pauline Frederick died on May 9, 1990.


Candee, Marjorie Dent, ed. Current Biography 1954. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1954.

Moritz, Charles, ed. Current Biography Yearbook 1990. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1990.

Slater, Charlotte. "She's still got that voice—ever steady and rich," in Detroit News. September 15, 1974.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Frederick, Pauline (c. 1906–1990)

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