Rankings are just that: rankings. As good and as bad as those who fill them with names. This is the way it is in every activity and journalism is no exception.
It may be useful, nevertheless, to take a look at this one, The 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years, coming, as it is the case, from the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, although anyone with a minimum knowledge of the field will miss important names. The first coming to my mind is James Reston, one of the best, if not the best, US diplomatic correspondent of the 20th century.
In March 2012 the faculty at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, together with an Honorary Committee of alumni, selected “the 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years.” The list was selected from more than 300 nominees plus write-ins and was announced at a reception in honor of the 100th anniversary of journalism education at NYU on April 3, 2012.
James Agee: a journalist, critic, poet, screenwriter and novelist who wrote the text for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a celebration of depression-era sharecropper families.
Christiane Amanpour: long-time and distinguished international reporter for CNN; now also works for ABC News.
Hannah Arendt: a political thinker, author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, who reported the Eichmann trial for the New Yorker; those articles were turned into the book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil in 1963.
The full list
Russell Baker: a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and humorist who wrote the popular “Observer” column in the New York Times from 1962 to 1998. Full Biography Here
James Baldwin: an essayist, journalist and novelist whose finely written essays, including “Notes of a Native Son,” “Nobody Knows My Name” and The Fire Next Time, made a significant contribution to the civil-rights movement. Full Biography Here
Donald L. Barlett: an investigative journalist who, along with his colleague James B. Steele, won two Pulitzer Prizes and multiple other awards for his powerful investigative series from the 1970s through the 1990s at the Philadelphia Inquirer and later at Time magazine. Full Biography Here
Meyer Berger: a fine columnist and feature writer for the New York Times, where he worked, except for a short stretch at the New Yorker, from 1928 to 1959; Berger won the Pulitzer Prize for his report on the murderer Howard Unruh. Full Biography Here.
Carl Bernstein: while a young reporter at the Washington Post in the early 1970s broke the Watergate scandal along with Bob Woodward. Full Biography Here
Herbert Block (Herblock): a clever and creative Washington editorial cartoonist who coined the term ‘McCarthyism’ and worked for the Washington Post for 55 years, until his death in 2001. Full Biography Here
Margaret Bourke-White: a photographer who was among the first women to report on wars and whose pictures appeared on the cover of Life magazine, beginning in 1936. Full Biography Here.
Ben Bradlee: executive editor at the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, who supervised the papers revelatory investigation of the Watergate Scandel. Full Biography Here.
Ed Bradley: a reporter who covered the Vietnam War, the 1976 presidential race, and the White House at CBS and who was a correspondent on 60 Minutes for 26 years. Full Biography Here.
Jimmy Breslin: street-wise, storytelling, Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York City columnist for the city’s tabloids over many decades in the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Full Biography Here.
David Brinkley: co-anchor of the top-rated Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC from 1956 to 1970, which he followed by a distinguished career as an anchor and commentator at NBC and ABC News. Full Biography Here.
David Broder: influential Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter and columnist, who joined the Washington Post in 1968. Full Biography Here.
Tom Brokaw: anchored NBC’s Nightly News and the network’s special-events coverage, including elections and September 11, from 1982 to 2004. Full Biography Here.
Art Buchwald: a Pulitzer Prize-winning satirist whose humor column, which began in the International Herald Tribune in 1949, was eventually syndicated to more than 550 newspapers. Full Biography Here.
William F. Buckley, Jr.: editor, columnist, author, and TV host who founded the National Review in 1955. Full Biography Here.
Robert Capa: a photographer who documented major historic events including the D-Day landings and the Spanish Civil War; Capa became an American citizen in 1946. Full Biography Here.