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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Michael Ware leaves CNN

We won't be seeing any more of Michael on CNN...

In addition to having taken a break recently in order to work on his book, it is no secret that he has been grappling with PTSD, brought on from the hellish years he worked in Baghdad. I was told that, unfortunately, when he needed more time off in order to deal with things, his request was denied. So he will not be returning.

While it is a huge loss for us (and for CNN) I am extremely relieved that he chose to take care of his own needs first. And while I sincerely hope that he will return to US television someday on another network, it is far more important that he gets the care he needs.

His work for CNN over the past four years has been an astonishing and brutally honest look at the causes and results of war. Not easy subject matter to watch… but he made us care. His urgency and passion burst through our television sets and made us pay attention, made us want to understand.

Personally, I will never forget the first time I heard him, speaking with Anderson Cooper via telephone to discuss Saddam Hussein’s trial as well as an article he had just written about an embed he had been on in Ramadi. It wasn’t even five minutes of airtime, but it was riveting. When it was announced that he would be joining CNN, I was delighted, because it meant we would be getting even more insight from him. And that we did — he worked like a stevedore, appearing on CNN at all hours of the day and night to make sure that we knew what was really going on in Iraq. As a viewer, you could tell that it mattered to him that the American people understood the issues in this far-away war of ours. He didn’t give a damn about the politics; he cared about what the grunts were going through and what the innocent Iraqi citizens (whose blood, he had to keep reminding us, is no less valuable than ours) were suffering.

His work was always insightful and informative, and on the too-rare occasions when he was able to do longer-format programs for them, it was like being in a classroom. He knew the material cold and presented it in a way that made it easy to comprehend. He is far from the average buffed-and-polished pretty boy posing for the camera. He’s real. He’s a guy — sorry; a bloke — you’d want to sit down and have a beer with, to ask how he’s doing and how he copes with all the craziness he reports on. And want to ask more about what he knows, what he’s seen, what he’s witnessed … no matter how unpleasant the answers would be to hear.

And exactly how does a news organization justify (to themselves, even!) not giving their war correspondents whatever they need in order to deal with their wounds, whether they are visible ones or not? If ABC had treated Bob Woodruff so callously, there would have been hell to pay. I don’t doubt they wanted him back in the field ASAP — doubly so after losing Christiane Amanpour — but don’t force him to make a choice between getting better and getting paid. That just sucks. Surely it would be better to have him off the air but still yours once he is ready to come back than to have him off the air and someone else’s upon his return? So not only has CNN made a callous move here, they have made a stupid one, as well.

What a tremendous asset he has been to CNN. And how foolish they are to lose him. Especially when the ratings are plummeting and the number of columns about how quickly they are losing stature are multiplying. Although, truly, ratings should not enter into these decisions, and none of us really expect corporations to display a modicum of decency or fairness anymore… Still.

When I first heard the news, I was angry at their foolishness. Now, I’m just sad. They blew it. Their loss will be another network’s gain.

I will, of course, continue to keep track of whatever work he does -- his book or other writings, or if he makes appearances here or in Australia.

When I started my site, he was working for Time magazine. I was delighted when he transitioned to CNN, knowing that it meant we would get more of his remarkable work. And now there will be a new chapter in his career to look forward to ... but only after this brief intermission.

Thanks, Mick ... be well.

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m said...

I am overwhelmed and don’t know exactly what to say.

The first action on my part is to totally block CNN from my tv. I don’t want any of their advertisers to subliminally make their way into my mind. Next, I have been paying a substantial amount extra per month to subscribe to CNNI. That’s over. No more of my money.
I pledge to give that money to help people with PTSD.

I’m going to post more later, but have to process this.

Anonymous said...

I will miss him. I was wondering what was going
on and why he had not been seen on CNN in a
while. Now both Michael and Christiane are gone,
CNN must find people who can fill the void. These
are tough shoes to fill. Take care Michael.

maxie1218 said...

It really is a huge loss for CNN…CNN continues to loose their top talent…I am hoping that Michael will go back to print journalism or freelance reporting, if and when he is ready to make his return…The “five minutes” here and there that the cable networks give their reporters is just not enough for the in-depth reporting he is cable of.

With both Christiane and now Michael leaving the network, there is not much reason left to watch CNN Domestic.

Sapphire said...

hello ladies!!! long time no comment & so sad that I have to comment on CNN's lost of another amazing correspondant. Always admired Micheal's work for the network. Wishing him continued success in his future endeavours!

Anonymous said...

Michael Ware is one of my heros. His reporting from where ever he was was outstanding. How can CNN justify losing him? Without Christiane and Michael we have left Anderson Cooper,Wolf Blitzer and Zakaria who are very good at spouting the company line with little variation. One more network newscast Fauxized!

Tedi B said...

What a poor choice, in my opinion. Michael Ware was really good at his job and it's a big lose for CNN. I wish him good luck wherever he ends up.

shindigdada said...

how am i not surprised? cnn is not the same CNN it was even 5 years ago. i have the TV on all day in my studio and it used to be cnn. one more minute of senseless bobbleheads trying to "get real" with their viewers or one more anchor-lite reading a quote from Facebook was going to drive me insane. CNN has been banished from my daily viewing.

and still, i am appalled at the callousness of the new CNN.

i wish MR. Ware good luck in his endeavors and will be the first to buy his book when available.

Sharon said...

It's outrageous that CNN wouldn't give Michael Ware the time off that he needs after all he has given to their network.
I will very much miss his incredible reporting for the time being. However, I'm sure in the near future we will be seeing him on air again on another network. He is an amazing journalist. Also I'm very much looking forward to reading his new book when it comes out.
We love you Mick! Take care of yourself, there are many people who care about your well being and appreciate all you have done to inform us about what is going on in the war zones.

Anonymous said...

Well, another top notch journalist hits the road and departs from CNN.
This does not surprise me. They are like Wall Street.... interested only in the profit motive and "What have you done for me lately?" Guess lately, poor Michael Ware hasn't done enough.
His absence will be felt during the next "international incident,"
and CNN can ill afford to offend anymore of its excellent talent.

Joey said...

This guy needs to move on. CNN is washed up; boring; repetitive. CNN should report hard news, including politics. Leave the entertainment to HLN. The anchors are so made up, they don't seem real.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of health and absences, there is good news for Sanjay Gupta, according to TVN, and maybe some bad news for Anderson Cooper.
Sanjay's ratings equalled or doubled as a substitute anchor, on Tuesday, in the 10PM slot....I do like the good Doctor but..I don't think AC is jumping for joy over Sanjay's ratings.

Anonymous said...

I suspected he was suffering over the past several months.

CNN: You should be ashamed!!!
Good luck getting any good war reporters if this is the way you treat them afterward.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised as the rest of you at this news. I was wondering if the reporter has any personal responsibility here. Not saying CNN is in the right for letting him go - they are despicable, but didn't Ware have the choice to stay so long in that war zone situation? Part of me answers my own question, thinking that if he left he would have been let go anyways.

I read that NBC takes care of every reporter that comes out of a war zone, providing them w/free counseling as long as they need it. Too bad CNN is either too cheap or too stupid to follow suit.

My next question is who will replace him, because I'm sure Nick Robertson isn't far behind w/getting PTSD and they just lost Amanpour. CNN is sinking fast.

Raad Ghantous said...

Another Bad move I am afraid by! what happened here? I am reminded of the loss of Aaron Brown back in 2005. CNN used to be my go to source for news first and then I, which is my habit, sought alternative sources to absorb more...but they were my guiding point and now even though I still check them out first thing in the morning the repetitiveness of their regular channel has me spending more time on the Headline news channel in the morning and after a brief viewing of Anderson Cooper at night switching to MSNBC for the rest of the evening! More and more I am finding my self spending more time on MSNBC and Current TV. CNN really needs to revisit its approach I think to retain loyal followers. Lets hope that we don't loss more talented and committed journalists like Michael in the future....I wish him all the best and can't wait to read his book but I am definitely sad to see him go..having been born in Baghdad and having family there I always felt the world was just a little bit better of with Michael there telling it like it is!...and the image of him in native attire in Afghanistan more recently will always represent to me the true commitment of his to get really into the story he was on!..not many could have pulled off that look :)

Good Luck Michael in all your future endeavors.

Anonymous said...

I think people here are jumping to a lot of unsubstantiated conclusions.

How do you know that CNN wanted him "back in the field"? Sending someone out in the field when the guy didn't want to and had PTSD would be setting the network up for a lawsuit. Even if they want Michael Ware back they could easily just have him sit on panels sometimes to lend insight instead of going into the field or offer him really tame location assignments.

None of CNN's other correspondents I'm aware of have had an unrelenting career with them like Michael Ware and when he joined up with CNN he was bragging to the press about how he's made it clear he wouldn't put up with CNN babysitting him. On the surface there is some reason to say this looks less like CNN policies doing damage to Ware and more like Ware in departing from the network's regular policies and procedures damaged himself in a way that will probably take many years to heal. Where they go from here is between him and the network, and they know the circumstances of what all went on behind the scenes and is going on now.

CNN provides free counselling to its correspondents and has experience dealing with traumatized reporters. There's been no previous indication that they are unsympathetic or irresponsible towards their traumatized employees, so it seems a bit much to leap to the conclusion that they are being heartless villains towards Ware because of what appears to be a blog rumor.

Heidi said...

I believe that I had read something that Michael himself had written about the difficulty he was having with PSTD. I was if he was a prisoner in his own body and could not escape what he had seen over his many years of reporting on the Iraq War.

I will miss his reporting, but at this point Michael needs the time to heal himself. It may take many years and never fully happen,but maybe he can find some peace within himself.

I wish him the best and want him to know that all his admirers wish him well.

He is one of the best and one day will be back somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I trust Michael Ware and hope he is happy and healthy.
I look fwd to seeing him in journalism again.

Anonymous said...

wow. monumentally stupid, cnn. michael ware was one of your very few bright lights and reason to tune in. once you lost aaron brown, it took mr. ware to bring back this viewer.

you'd do well to rethink this, cnn.


Anonymous said...

OK, this is my take on Michael Ware.
He is a great journalist who chose to go to war zones and report conflict, knowing full and well what he was doing. He excelled in telling us what was happening on the ground. Having said that, he struck me as difficult to work with, and for. He was not your usual "team player."
Just last year when everyone was sitting around speaking as a panel, in the SIT Room, and wearing the proper attire, there was Michael in a shirt that looked as though he slept in it. Sometimes you CAN tell a "book by its cover."
Michael seemed to be too much of a "free spirit" to take orders from anyone and sometimes, even in the best of organizations, you have "go with the flow."
Maybe this was NOT all CNN's fault.
Both parties appeared flawed and unable to come to some sort of an agreement.
We also are not focused on war zones and are more interested in domestic political affairs, so Michael's bargaining chips had lost some of its "glow."
In this life, especially at work, you must be flexible and know your true value.

corve said...

This is bad, we wil miss him. His reports from war torn places across the world was always trusted and he was a great asset for CNN.

Who will be next?

Cyn said...

Anon@8:14 said:
"In this life, especially at work, you must be flexible and know your true value."

Thankfully, he does.