How Clarissa Ward Became One of the Few Women on Television to Document the Tragedy and Terror of War-Torn Countries
Clarissa Ward is an American television journalist who is currently the Chief International Correspondent for CNN, based in London. For more than 15 years, Clarissa has reported from every major front line across the world from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, to Yemen. The list is endless. Where there is conflict, Clarissa is there documenting the tragedy and terror of war. Her job has taken her to some of the most dangerous places in the world.
Ward began her television career after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She knew that she wanted to get to the bottom of the question of how the terrorist attack happened. Fox News offered her a job on the spot to work on overnight assignments.
After learning Arabic by the age of 25, Ward was able to travel to Iraq for a rotation as a producer for six weeks. After moving past her position with Fox, Ward set herself up as a freelancer and developed her career into what it is now.
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The hardest aspect of Ward’s job is dealing with the loss of people she cares about. Another challenge is transitioning back and forth between two different worlds. It is hard to straddle two contrasting existences. Something that has helped Ward deal with these challenges is by staying immersed in her personal life to have a place to feel grounded.
“The assumption that most people make is that the hardest part of your job is that you see some really tough things and you see the worst of humanity and you see a lot of death and occasionally you come very close to it yourself.”
Coping is a vital part of Ward’s career experience. When she is in situations in which she needs to stay composed and calm, Ward focuses on how she is going to bring justice to those people in danger. The primary concern remains to get everyone out of the situation safely.
Long-term effects of witnessing trauma appear and affect people in a variety of ways. Ward recommends that everyone who is pursuing this type of job sees a therapist to make sure they have someone they can talk to about it all. This can also help people recognize the warning signs of the development of PTSD and Depression.
Ward’s published book, On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist, wants to leave the reader with an understanding that people are bound together by human connection. In her book, Ward speaks about her experience in war-torn Syria and her investigations into the Western extremists who were drawn to ISIS.
Ward uses her story to explain to the reader that it is a lot more complicated than violence or peace. It is about the connections that people make with one another that truly make a difference in this world.
“People are people. No matter where they are in the world. No matter which god they worship, no matter what color their skin, no matter their sexual orientation.”
It is important to know that you will be willing to give this sort of job your everything. You need to prioritize this job over other things in your life. Ward travels every month to a new place around the world while also focusing on maintaining love and stability in her life.
She has learned to balance her home life with her travels. After having two children of her own, Ward has now developed more of an understanding of the mothers she sees in conflict zones and has also become more mindful of the risk she is taking herself when traveling to countries in conflict.
When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Ward said,