When Clarissa Ward returns to work at CNN in the next few weeks, she will probably step on to a departing plane more frequently than she does into the cable-news outlet’s London office, where she is typically based.
Ward, a veteran of Fox News, ABC News and CBS News, was on Wednesday named CNN’s chief international correspondent, succeeding Christiane Amanpour in the role. Amanpour in recent months has devoted more time to a flagship interview program on CNN International and was recently named to anchor a program on PBS that took the place of Charlie Rose’s long-running show. Ward joined CNN in 2015.
She expects to return from maternity leave soon and start another cycle of globe-hopping to cover what she believes are some of the most important stories progressing overseas, including Iran’s path after the U.S. pulled out of its recent pact with that country, or the rise of populism in Europe. “Are we seeing the emergence of a new world order?” she asks in an interview. “There are a lot of questions, especially with the White House taking new directions for the United States, leaving a lot of international partners wondering what the future holds and what alliances are going to be here to stay and which ones may be falling. It’s a fascinating and interesting time.”
CNN’s U.S. network is best known these days for its ongoing examination of news coming out of Washington and the White House. Yet the network, now owned by AT&T as part of its purchase of Time Warner, has a heavy reliance on stories taking place around the world. Its CNN International network represents a good chunk of its overall business and often serves as a proxy for U.S. media in overseas markets. Ward takes her new role as Comcast and 21st Century Fox are both pressing to take control of British satellite broadcaster Sky PLC and its well-regarded Sky News – an acquisition that would give either company (and Walt Disney, which has an agreement to take over Fox’s Sky stake) more heft in international markets. NBC News has already made efforts to bulk up overseas with the 2017 purchase of a 25% stake in France-based Euronews. Meanwhile. CBS News continues to emphasize overseas reporting in many of its flagship programs.
Ward has a long record covering news from all manner of overseas locales. She got her start at Fox News as a desk assistant, assignment editor, producer and correspondent, jobs that had her learning the ins and outs of U.S. military movements in the Middle East and violence in Iraq. ABC News stationed her in Moscow and Beijing. And CBS News used her international expertise for programs ranging from “60 Minutes” to “CBS This Morning.”
At CNN, she says, “it’s more important than ever to be doubling down” on reporting that “informs viewers, that allows them to make better decisions about the world around them. It’s a more confusing world these days.”
She says she’s ready to get to work on explaining it all. She is working on a few projects of her own already, but has to be ready to go where the news cycle leads. “It doesn’t matter what the story is, how remote it is,” she says. “If there’s a big story we are going to be there and we are going to go hard on it.”
(Pictured, above: Clarissa Ward in Greenland)