Inside Interview: Jennifer Griffin

Jennifer Griffin

FNC Correspondent Jennifer Griffin is currently based in Jerusalem, where she has witnessed firsthand the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We asked Jennifer what it’s like to report from an area in turmoil and how it affects her as a wife and mother. This interview was conducted before she gave birth to her second child. She has recently returned from maternity leave.

What's it like to report from an area that is in such turmoil?

Jennifer: What people don't see is just how scared we sometimes are. What we do puts us, at times, in a lot of danger. For instance, the West Bank and Gaza are places very cut off from where we sit in Jerusalem. To actually get there and tell the story is itself difficult. We have to cross Israeli checkpoints where soldiers ask questions about why you are going to these places. Then you have to meet "fixers" who take you to people who are wanted and fear being assassinated by Israel. When you are sitting with these people they could be assassinated at any moment.

How does a reporter stick to the facts in the face of such horror?

J: One of the hardest things is keeping your emotions in check when you are reporting a story. Our job is to tell a story and try to tell it without too much emotion, but also without losing what it is like to be a human being. You have to stick to the facts and you have to try to report a story in as dispassionate a way as possible. Sometimes during reports I choke back tears, and I am not afraid to admit it.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

J: Probably the hardest thing I do on a daily basis is saying good-bye to my daughter in the morning, knowing we're going out in dangerous circumstances. That's really hard. Some people like the danger. I don't like it, but it's part of the job and sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and keep going.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?

J: The most defining moment for me as a reporter was one of the first stories I ever covered. It was Mandela's release from prison in South Africa and the end of the apartheid era. That was a historic moment that shaped the work I did after that.

...And the toughest?

J: One of the toughest assignments I've had was in Somalia, before the U.S. Marines arrived at the height of the famine there. Thousands of people were dying every day from starvation. It was a horrible scene. We had to follow a truck around the town as they picked up the dead. I literally saw people walk, fall, and die in front of my eyes. I'll never forget it. I'll never forget the smell, I'll never forget how it felt to watch people die.

What do you feel is most important about your job?

J: We're the eyes and ears in the field. We provide the viewer with what it feels like to be someplace, what it looks like, what it smells like, what is really going on. I think it is difficult to do that from far off, and that is why it is important to have someone in the field, someone who is telling the story behind the story.

Read our inside interview with war correspondent Steve Harrigan.