Enheduana is an ancient example of the power that journalism can have currently on those engaging with the news as well as how it can set standards for future journalists.
Enheduana was the first person that we know of to put her name on a written work. She wrote a variety of literature such as psalms, poetry, and prayers. She is thought to be the daughter of Sargon, lived in Akkad around 2285-2250 BCE, and was the high priestess of the most important temple in Sumer (a city in Ur.)
It is impressive that during this time when writing was being developed within different civilizations and women held more reserved roles that she was able to gain such recognition and create pieces of literature that still influence people today. Through her works, she was able to create a more standardized practice of religion and was essentially the first journalist as she reported the characters and qualities of the gods to the Mesopotamian people. Scholars argue that “she altered the very nature of the Mesopotamian gods and the perception the people had of the divine.”
Scholar Paul Kriwaczek writes:
“Her compositions, though only rediscovered in modern times, remained models of petitionary prayer for [centuries]. Through the Babylonians, they influenced and inspired the prayers and psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the Homeric hymns of Greece. Through them, faint echoes of Enheduana, the first-named literary author in history, can even be heard in the hymnody of the early Christian church.”
While it may seem arguable whether Enheduana was actually a journalist, the type of works she wrote do fit the definition of journalism. Journalism is essentially the research, gathering, assessing, production, and presentation of news and information. For the Mesopotamian people who looked to her writing to understand the gods, she was a religious journalist who used familiar literary mediums to portray her messages.
Enheduana set a standard for future religious journalists. Her work inspired famous pieces of literature, such as the Hebrew Bible, contain important traditions, pieces of culture, and arguably history that provide information and news about these ancient societies. While today religious journalism is quite different from the global perspective, it has the same basic purpose to inform the public.