Telling the story
CNN star anchor Hala Gorani may be a household name in the world of breaking news with a portfolio of accomplishments to make even the most veteran journalist blush, but this humorous and approachable woman has built her success on a unique ability to ble
The 43-year-old prize-winning CNN anchor is not what you would expect. Watching Hala Gorani succinctly present the latest world news from CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, US, give live updates from a remote war-torn part of the globe, or intellectually grill a controversial world leader, one would be forgiven for imagining the formidable woman on our screens would be much the same in person. Quite the contrary. Yes, she may be tough but it soon becomes apparent that beneath that tough exterior Hala Gorani is blessed with both wit and warmth.
If you scroll through her Twitter feed along with over 110,000 other avid followers, you’ll notice that one story in particular currently features heavily, and it’s one with which Hala has a birth affiliation – Syria.
Asked how it feels to see her homeland spiral into chaos, she says, “Professionally the same rules apply regardless of my heritage but I would be lying if I said it didn’t add a layer of personal drama because my whole life I’ve been going in and out of Syria.
“I’m 100 per cent Syrian – from my mother and my father’s side – so you hear certain accents, you hear people saying things on amateur video and it reminds you of where you came from, what your family is, and of course it adds more to how devastated you feel about what’s going on in that country. Add to that it’s the worst-case scenario realised. I don’t think anyone two-and-a-half years ago thought Syria would be what it is today, even people who’ve lived there their whole lives… it’s a constant daily onslaught of tragedy and almost the death of a country.”
Hala, as one of CNN’s most experienced journalists, was one of the first reporters to cover the Syrian crisis when it started to unfold back in 2011 and was part of the first small team allowed access after protests began. She has not returned to her homeland since but says it’s not for lack of trying.
“Well, of course, with Syria the main challenge is getting in now, and just being able to cover without being constantly considered a target by almost all parties. I mean Syria is currently the biggest story no one is covering! You have the odd person who sneaks in for three days and runs back out, and who can blame them? Between the kidnappings, the murders, and the snipers, it’s becoming impossible to cover that story.
“It’s not just the accidental exchange of gunfire that is a problem any more,” she explains. “That used to be the issue when you were a journalist. Nowadays you’re targeted for kidnapping, by snipers, people harassing you. You can’t go into crowds any more without feeling you’re taking a giant personal risk – it’s becoming extremely hard froma personal-safety standpoint to cover conflict in the region.”
French flair, American education
Born inWashington to parents from Aleppo, Hala spent much of her childhood in Paris (something many French people claim explains her impeccable style and taste).
Following a brief spell in Algeria, and after her parent’s separation, Hala accompanied her mother to France where she stayed until