(Jan. 1, 1936−Sep. 18, 2002). Bettie Cadou became an award-winning investigative reporter and a trailblazer for women in sports media while writing for the Indianapolis News from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. The position was just the beginning for a woman whose successful and lengthy career in journalism spanned over 30 years. Born Elizabeth Ann Stickler in Bainbridge, Indiana, Putnam County, she grew up in the Crawfordsville area with her family before eventually settling in Indianapolis. 

Cadou gained national recognition on May 28, 1971, when she, along with Mari McCloskey, assistant editor of Woman’s World Magazine, became the first woman to gain official access to Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although Cadou had covered news at the track for several years prior to 1971, a 62-year ban dating to the opening of the Speedway in 1909 had prohibited women from entering the garage and pit areas. Speedway management removed the ban after McCloskey sued to obtain a restraining order against the policy. Cadou wasted no time and immediately set forth to report in Gasoline Alley but was met with hostility from several of the drivers who refused to acknowledge a woman in the previously all-male area. She did not let the actions of a few discourage her and continued to report on happenings at the track. 

A few months later, Cadou gained further acclaim when she and a photographer posed as migrant workers in Frankfort, Indiana. Her series in the News entitled “Children of the Field,” provided a first-hand account of the unsanitary living conditions of migrant workers. The series also encouraged changes to state laws to improve those conditions. Cadou earned a CASPER (Community Appreciation in Public Enrichment and Relations) Award for the series in 1972. Created by the Community Service Council in 1951 to “encourage greater in-depth reporting of community services and problems,” the CASPER went to members of the media for their “outstanding work in the areas of health, welfare, recreation, and community services.” 

She received another CASPER award in 1974 for her series “A Child is Waiting,” in which she covered the challenges and importance of adoption, helping 28 young individuals find new homes. The awards were just a few of many she received throughout her career as she covered the Indiana General Assembly, the Ku Klux Klan, the Indianapolis Colts, women and children’s issues, and a variety of health and medical matters.

Cadou also wrote for a number of other publications, including the Hammond Times, Indianapolis Monthly, and Indianapolis Woman. She served as public relations director for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management throughout the 1980s. Later in her career, she taught journalism classes at IUPUI and Butler University. She was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006.

Revised April 2021

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