UNT Professor Spotlight: Gayle Reaves

Writer: Emily Martinez

Gayle Reaves: An Inspiration



Gayle Reaves enjoyed reading and writing from a very young age. Her mother read to her, and it grew to her liking. She began writing in the second grade, stories about horses, later moving on to different types of stories…then starting out reporting in junior high, and eventually moving on to The Daily Texan while in college.

Gayle Reaves has received a Pulitzer Prize and won a George Polk Award. She’s written for quite a lot of major newspapers, such as the Fort Worth Weekly, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Austin American-Statesman. Reaves received her bachelor's at the University of Texas at Austin, and later got her masters at the University of North Texas. A Pulitzer Prize is an award received because of accomplishments, whether by newspaper, online journalism, musical, or literature. It was created by John Pulitzer, and it is managed by Columbia University in New York City. As mentioned, Reaves won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994, while working with The Dallas Morning News, for international reporting. She was one of sixteen on her team. The team created a series called “Violence Against Women: A Question of Human Rights”. Reaves mentions that in almost every culture, there is some sort of violence against women, because of their gender. They covered topics from rape and killings to domestic violence, which is honored in some parts of Latin America. They traveled, speaking to women from all over the world. One of Reaves’ topics was forced prostitution in Thailand. She spoke to women who were kidnapped as children, or sold into prostitution by their own families. She spoke to women who had AIDS and said, “They truly didn’t understand the implications of it.” Reaves notes that speaking on Women’s issues was powerful for her and it was moving. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, the United Nations held the 4th world conference on women in Beijing…and she covered that, and she absolutely loved it. I chose to write about Reaves because she mentions her career very briefly in class. Now knowing a bit more about her, it changes perspectives, and excites you. A journalist is supposed to be a voice for the people, telling stories that sometimes, unfortunately don’t get out, and Reaves is a huge part of that. One of the most significant advice I was given from her was, “If you don’t know background of a person, then you don’t know what interesting questions to ask.” I think now, from only speaking to her briefly, I’ve learned what can make you better as a journalist, and hope to learn from her again in the future.