Michael Ware on ABC Radio in Brisbane [UPDATED]

Michael did a half-hour radio interview earlier today in Brisbane, and as always, his passion for his work came through loud and clear.


Michael talks to QUT students

QUT 051210

Michael spoke to journalism students at Queensland University of Technology about his experiences in Iraq. This is a news clip they produced about the event:

[click photo to play]


Students at Q-U-T were treated to a guest lecture from CNN’s Michael Ware today, a welcome home for the Brisbanite who nearly didn’t make it.

Michael Ware, CNN Correspondent: “I was dragged from my car by a chap who had a live grenade. He had the pin in one hand and held it in the other and he held it to my head.”

Michael’s captors planned to film his execution with his own camera. But he was saved by a nationalist insurgent and friend who convinced them to let him go.

Kidnapped three times, the lucky to be alive 41-year-old says his staff were also abducted and tortured.

Michael Ware, CNN Correspondent: “They’ve saved my life several times and risked theirs countless times and never once did any of them take a backwards step.”

At least 40 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003, 13 of those were killed by US troops.

For the journalists who’d come home, they often don’t return the way they once were.

Michael is on leave from CNN to finish the book but to do that he has to revisit the horrors he’s locked away in his mind.

Michael Ware, CNN Correspondent: “Laughing while a man gurgles for life is common place. On the front line you become de-sensitised.”

Since returning home, Michael has helped families he met in Afghanistan move to Australia, England and the United States.

The book, titled, “Between Me and the Dead”, will be published early next year.

Ashlea Tighe, QUT News

Very Special Mail

Was touched beyond words to find this in the mail today:

From: Michael Ware
Date: May 07, 2010 07:21:24 AM PDT

I’ve never written publicly to mickware.com before but I am now compelled… Cynthia Delmar you’ve left me without words. What one woman, a blog, and a journalist’s eye can do simply amazes me. And all I can say is – thank you, for everything.

He is a class act.

...and Hello Again!

The New York Times broke some very good news late today:

April 30, 2010, 7:03 PM
CNN Is ‘Standing With’ Stressed-Out War Correspondent

Michael Ware has spent so much of the past nine years reporting from war zones for Time magazine and CNN that it’s almost like he’s a citizen of Iraq.

That experience, he says, has left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an interview on Thursday, he said that CNN wanted him back in the field before he felt he was ready and, as a result, he was under the impression that he had been released from his contract. “I required further time off than I think CNN was able to give,” he said.

But there may have been a misunderstanding. On Friday CNN said that Mr. Ware is still employed by the network, disputing an unsourced report on a blog that he was no longer working for the network and that the disorder was a reason.

“We will continue to support him during this time,” the cable news network said in a statement. The network said it was “rightly regarded as an industry leader” in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and that it offers support services to past and present employees.

Mr. Ware’s agent, Richard Leibner, said, “They are clearly standing with him now.”

In a telephone interview from Brisbane, Australia, where he currently lives, Mr. Ware said he first met with a company psychologist two years ago to talk about post-traumatic stress. But he continued to report from conflict zones. At news outlets like CNN, deployment to dangerous locations is always voluntary.

In an interview, Mr. Ware talked openly about how hard it can be to return from war to home, calling the homecoming “beyond harsh.”

“It’s a struggle to learn how to fit back in,” he said, “and yet, that’s precisely what’s expected of you — to fit back in.”

He said he started a three-month book leave in February. Before long his bosses were itching to get him back in the field. “They wanted me back straight away,” he said. He submitted a request for further unpaid leave, apparently without citing P.T.S.D. as a reason. When that request was denied, Mr. Ware said he believed he had been effectively unemployed. But his agent said the CNN bosses were not fully aware of his current condition.

CNN said in the statement Friday, “We hope that when he is ready and able he will be back doing what he does best.”

Mr. Ware has talked publicly about his post-traumatic stress (though not on CNN’s airwaves) and he said he would continue to do so. And he certainly doesn’t rule out a return to conflict in the future.

“I still miss war,” he said.

This is a win-win-win for all concerned -- Michael, CNN, and the audience.

Welcome “back,” Michael!

Farewell to CNN


I learned today that Michael has parted ways with CNN.

In addition to having taken a break 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. 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.

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 this 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.

If you care to express your opinion about this, I welcome you to come over to
the blog to do so, and also hope you will let CNN know what you're thinking.

The latest info

One of our blog regulars, Nina, wrote to CNN last week and asked for an update on Michael's return. They advised her that he is currently working on his book (yay!) and will return "soon." And yesterday a tweet from the BackStory gang said that we can expect to see more from him "this summer."

New/old pics from CAP, April 2008

Sharon found some great photos that were recently posted by The Center for American Progress, where Michael spoke in April of 2008. They are available in several sizes on the Flickr page, so follow the links to download whichever you like! (Also in some of the photos are Nir Rosen and moderator Brian Katulis.)


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About the AACC event in Houston

Thanks to Delie and Sharon, some info from Michael's speaking engagement in Houston Thursday afternoon...


Speaking in Houston this month [UPDATED]

Michael is scheduled to speak at an event in Houston on January 28th, as part of Australia Week celebrations: