The Anglo-American journalist Clarissa Ward has accepted the invitation from the Prix Bayeux-Calvados-Normandie for War Correspondents: next October the CNN star journalist will don the mantle of President of the international jury for the 31st edition of the event. At the age of 44, it is an“honour”and a “big responsibility” for one of the youngest Presidents in the history of the Prix Bayeux.

Last December Clarissa Ward became the first and only Western journalist to enter Gaza with neither permission nor escort from the Israeli army. A coup which served to confirm once more, as if it were needed, the aura and reputation of this multi-lingual journalist who had already received nine Emmys, three DuPont awards and two Peabody awards.

Birth of a vocation

For Clarissa Ward it all started in 2001. On 11 September to be precise. As she began her final year at Yale University, the young student of French, Italian and Russian literature – who had no ambitions of a career in journalism at the time – was deeply affected by the attack on the World Trade Centre.  She felt it as “a calling” even more than a shock, at the deepest level of her being. “I wanted to better understand how this had happened, and it seemed to me that some of it at least was born out of miscommunication and misunderstanding between different worlds. I became very fixated on this idea of trying to understand where this had come from, and I felt that I wanted to be a kind of translator between these two different worlds.” Clarissa took heed of her vocation, finished her studies, obtained her degree in comparative literature and began her career as a reporter.

Meteoric rise

Having begun as an assistant on the night-time edition of Fox News, Clarissa quickly moved to ABC and then CBS News. Working for these major American networks she was based first in Moscow, Beijing and then London and travelled to many war zones. Among them Syria provided the opportunity for her earliest coup and first international recognition: while there she did an interview with two Western fighters who had gone there to wage jihad, and became the only Western journalist to have interviewed an American jihadi.  In 2015 she joined CNN and three years later succeeded Christiane Amanpour as Chief International Correspondent. In 2021 she was in Afghanistan when the Taliban regained power. In 2022 she covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Each time her reports on families in distress struck a chord with public opinion. Driven by “a fundamental curiosity about human nature” Clarissa Ward continued to pursue the mission she had set for herself more than twenty years earlier: “to shine a light on the experience of ordinary civilians living through extraordinary moments”.


And Clarissa encountered many ordinary citizens. Very many. Enormous numbers of them. So many that she decided to write a book about them. On All Fronts: the Education of a Journalist, published in 2020, enabled her to share the “kindness, courage, resilience, altruism, bravery: you see extraordinary moments of kindness and selflessness that don’t generally make the front page of the papers, but need to be told”. Clarissa describes the book as a “memoir” that she also wrote for her children. As the mother of three young boys – “a second full-time job!” – the journalist firmly believes that her work will contribute to making her children “better citizens, better humans, open to the world and the way it works”. She explains that they in turn “have made her a better journalist, with a lot more compassion, viewing stories in a different way”. Having seen the worst of what humanity is capable of, she retains a degree of optimism. “I’ve seen the worst of humanity but also the best.”

A new role

Accustomed to ”going where the news takes her” Clarissa Ward will make an exception next October to spend a few days in Bayeux. A unique time and space that she sees as “the opportunity to immerse myself in some of the best journalism out there”. She feels honoured to take part in the deliberations for “one of the most prestigious and well-respected awards for conflict journalism” and is aware of her responsibilities: “Moderating the conversations around how we judge journalism, deconstructing stories, is a challenging process. What are the parameters for judging what is the best journalism? Is it about bravery? Is it about the story-telling? Is it about newsworthiness? Is it about impact? It’s not often that we have the opportunity to dig deep into what constitutes great journalism. I’m sure there’ll be some interesting debates: journalists love to debate!”

Following on from Christiane Amanpour

In addition to their origins (both were born in London) and their positions at CNN, Clarissa Ward and Christiane Amanpour will soon have another thing in common: having been President of the jury at the Prix Bayeux. In 2018 this small town in Calvados welcomed the American news channel’s star of current affairs.  In 2024 it will do so again with Clarissa Ward.

Clarissa Ward – Some dates

1980 — Born in London
2002 — Graduated Yale University with BA in comparative literature
2002 — CNN Moscow internship
2003 — FOX News Overnight Assignment Desk
2005 — Moved to Beirut and started working as a freelance producer in Baghdad / Beirut / Middle East
2007 — ABC News Moscow Correspondent
2009 — ABC News Beijing Correspondent
2011 — CBS News Correspondent based out of London, mostly covering the Syrian civil war
2011 — Peabody Award for her undercover work during the Syrian uprising
2013 — DuPont Columbia Award for her work in Syria for CBS News
2015 — Murrow Award for International Reporting, Washington State University
2015 — Joined CNN
2016 — Peabody Award for the CNN reports: ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Undercover in Syria, Battle for Mosul
2016 — David Kaplan Award for Undercover in Syria
2016 — Excellence in International Reporting Award from the International Center for Journalists
2018 — Appointed CNN Chief International Correspondent
2019 — Reporter of the year for Alliance of Women in Media (AWM)
2020 — “On All Fronts: the Education of a Journalist” is published
2020 — DuPont Award with Nic Robertson for CNN’s reporting on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi
2023 — Emmy and DuPont Awards for Ukraine coverage