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My First Tv Job: Christiane Amanpour

After 30 years in television news, the Emmy-and Peabody-winning CNN correspondent, 55, reflects on her (humble) first TV gig

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Not many people’s first jobs are in front of the camera. It takes a long, long time to be an overnight success. [Laughs] You’ve got to work really hard and start at the bottom.

I was an intern at the local NBC television station WJAR in Providence when I was a student at the University of Rhode Island. I did work for the investigative unit and went out on a few shoots, and when I graduated they hired me. The only job going was the graphics operator, doing all the writing on the screen, the writing you see on a weather map. I sat for months doing that job in the control room. It’s a very nerve-racking, high-intensity job. There were plenty of opportunities for error. I made errors, and I was immediately called out by the director, and in fact, at one point the weatherman called me out on the air because I was obviously too slow, or wrong on some occasions, for what he was saying. I reacted by going absolutely beet red and trying to keep my cool and not get the next graphic wrong.

But you know, it’s embarrassing, and you’re young and you’re trying to do your best. He was an older man, and he’d been there for a long time. You know, I’m not sure how fair it is to call out the graphics operator on the air, but nonetheless: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m a firm believer in that. (As told to Abby West)