The newsroom has traditionally been a “boys’ club”—and we are just beginning to see a shift in this mindset, both on cable and network news. For decades, Christiane Amanpour has been challenging that norm as a prominent news correspondent and a leader and role model for women (and all journalists) all over the world.
Growing up in both Tehran and England as the daughter of a Muslim from Iran and a Christian from the United Kingdom, she is fluent in both English and Farsi. Her family left Iran due to tensions between Iran and Iraq, which heavily impacted her father’s business. The dual perspective provided by these circumstances of her adolescence has likely been a foundation of the open point-of-view Amanpour brings to her news work and the empathy she offers in her programming.
Amanpour made her debut on the national news scene in 1983 at CNN and three years later was working as a producer-correspondent in their New York offices. By the late 1980s, she was sent to Europe, covering the fall of communism and the rise of democracy. She became more prominent as a television reporter during the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s, covering the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the later United States involvement. From there Christiane moved to Iraq, reporting on the Kurdish revolt and then to Bosnia and Herzegovina – a move that put her in American living rooms on a regular basis. It is widely believed that her reporting on the conflict made our citizens more actively informed and aware of the atrocities occurring. Amanpour was sometimes criticized for her passionate editorials on and bias surrounding the conflict. But, as she told the Guardian, “There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”
Christiane’s experience in conflict reporting has found her covering crises in Haiti, Afghanistan, Palestinian territories, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and she reported from Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. Amanpour has also obtained interviews with world leaders that other reporters could not. She famously interviewed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat live via telephone during the siege on his Ramallah compound in 2002, and the leader angrily hung up on her. She was the sole journalist reporting from the courtroom during Saddam Hussein’s 2004 trial and the last reporter to officially interview Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi before he was overthrown and killed in 2011. She also secured the only interview with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring.
Currently, Amanpour works for two networks – an incredibly unique arrangement. She serves as global affairs anchor for ABC News and provides international commentary and analysis for their other news programs. She is also the chief international correspondent for CNN International and her show “Amanpour” permanently filled the spot vacated by Charlie Rose, who faces sexual harassment allegations.
Recently, Amanpour created a CNN documentary series called “Sex and Love Around the World,” seeking to examine cultural approaches to sex, love, relationships, and marriage. The series of composed of six episodes, each helmed by a female director. “I wanted to know how many women and girls understand that they have a right to their own happiness,” Amanpour told Variety. “It doesn’t happen in so many parts of the world for so many reasons — culturally, legally, religiously. Now I’m finding that this is changing and young women are becoming the agents of their own happiness. They’re investigating the full extent of what it means to be a human being.”
Amanpour has received virtually every journalistic award possible, including nine Emmy Awards, two George Polk Awards, the Courage in Journalism Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and multiple George Foster Peabody Awards. She is a commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and an honorary citizen of Sarajevo. Christiane is also on the board of directors for the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and has served as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for freedom of expression and journalist safety. Amanpour continues to delve into new and difficult subjects and is a world leader in international journalism. For this and many reasons, Christiane Amanpour is one of our #womenwhoinspire.
Lead image credit: The New York Times