Veteran Trailblazer In Journalism Dies

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Helen Amelia Thomas, a renowned white house reporter passed away on 20th July 2013, aged 92, at her home in Washington D.C. due to natural causes.

Born in 1920 to parents George and Mary Thomas who migrated from Tripoli, Lebanon, the late Helen shared the same birth date as the current U.S. President Barack Obama. 

Videos of Helen and Barack Obama sharing a birthday together during a Press Conference in 2009 has been making its rounds on YouTube since the news of her death. 

Helen Thomas was a pioneering female journalist who paved a path for other female journalists in the male dominated field of news reporting, back in the early 1940s.

She had a long and successful career of 68 years, 49 of which she spent as the White House Correspondent. 

She is known to have been the first female to be appointed as a White House News reporter, as well as to be awarded the membership and subsequently become the first female president of the White House Correspondence Association. 

She was also the first female to receive the US National Press Club, and the Gridiron Club Memberships.

During her years as a White House Correspondent, she witnessed and reported the swearing in of 11 Presidents, and reported the press conferences of 10 Presidents starting from John F Kennedy to Barack Obama. 

Helen was the only lady in a sea of male reporters who accompanied President Richard Nixon on his trip to China in 1972.

She was so renowned and revered by journalists and Presidents alike that she had a designated seat in the front row during Press Conferences, and had the privilege to always ask the first question.

Her questions have always been thought-provoking and her style of questioning the authoritative figures of many nations have made her a journalist that many feared facing.

In 2008, the Christian Science Monitor described Helen as being "outspoken, blunt, demanding, forceful and unrelenting."

Helen accepted these descriptions of her, and once explained, "…I feel like we (reporters) are representing the American people who don't get e chance to ask the president a question."

However, Barack Obama seems to have described her the best with his statement, "What made Helen the 'Dean of the White House Press Corps' was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account."

Her much celebrated career came to an abrupt end in 2010 when she tendered her resignation following a controversy caused by a remark she made about Jews in Israel.

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