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Inspirations & Explorers
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Business & Culture;
Rebels & Leaders


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Inspirations & Explorers
Christiane Amanpour
YORAY LIBERMAN / GETTY IMAGES FOR CNN 
ON THE SPOT: In July, Amanpour reported on the escalating conflict from the Israeli-Lebanese border

Christiane Amanpour
CNN's chief international correspondent doesn't just report on world affairs—she hopes to influence them

print article Subscribe email TIME Europe It may be thought a little odd to call someone a hero who thoroughly loves what she does and has attained wealth and worldwide fame doing it. But Christiane Amanpour, cnn's chief international correspondent, still meets many of the traditional definitions. She repeatedly puts herself in danger. She afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. And
 
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she is passionately committed to a cause—in her case, the idea that seriously reporting the world's hard stories is essential to improving it.

Her throaty baritone, her elegant (but not quite placeable) accent, her gravity, all make her an unlikely rock star for a U.S. network. Amanpour had trouble landing a TV job. But to a young cnn, her international background was a plus. The child of a British mother and an Iranian airline executive, she spent her first 11 years in Tehran. The revolution that deposed the Shah exiled her family to Britain; there she attended convent school, adding French to her Farsi, before studying journalism at the University of Rhode Island, where she shared a house with John F. Kennedy Jr., then a student at Brown.

And she turned out to be a TV natural. She reported from Eastern Europe during the collapse of communism, distinguished herself covering the first Gulf War, and became a household name during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s: respected by colleagues for her enterprise, by viewers for her gift of putting a human face on complex and brutal events.

She took on President Bill Clinton at a press conference in 1994 when the U.S. was temporizing about the carnage, prompting him to deny, angrily, her accusation of "constant flip-flops." But he ultimately reversed U.S. policy. To Amanpour that demonstrated the virtues of a free press: "The relentless witness we paid to what was going on there finally forced our democracies, which did not want to intervene, to intervene, which was a good thing." Her critics, now mostly on the right, think she is just too political.

Since then Amanpour has interviewed a slew of world leaders, made prizewinning documentaries and dashed off to lots more wars. She feels "extremely lucky, unexpectedly, unbelievably rewarded" in her work. But what gets her up in the morning is an old-fashioned belief in reportorial shoe-leather. "Our times are getting more and more dangerous, and honest, fact-based information is harder and harder to come by," she says. Commentators grind bigger axes, bloggers bloviate, hard reality is eclipsed by flashy opinion—with the result that the center cannot hold. "If we who have the power and ability to deliver real information fail," she says, "we contribute to ignorance and isolation."

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TIME Europe's Heroes 2003
April 28, 2004
TIME Europe's Heroes 2004
October 11, 2004
TIME Europe's Heroes 2005
October 10, 2005


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