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Janine di Giovanni

Janine di GiovanniJanine di Giovanni, born in 1961 in Caldwell, New Jersey, is an author and award-winning foreign correspondent. She is a regular contributor to The Times, Vanity Fair, The Evening Standard and The Guardian. One of Europe's most respected and experienced reporters, with vast experience covering war and conflict. Her reporting has been called 'established, accomplished brilliance' and she has been cited as 'the finest foreign correspondent of our generation'. She has reported nearly every violent conflict since the late 1980's, and has made a trademark of writing about the human face of war. She has won four major awards: two Amnesty International Prizes for her coverage of human rights abuses in Kosovo and Sierra Leone; the National Magazine Award for 2000 in the USA for her article in Vanity Fair, 'Madness Visible'; and Britain's Granada Television's What the Papers Say Foreign Correspondent of the Year for her reporting from Chechnya. She is one of the journalists featured in a documentary about women war reporters, 'Bearing Witness', a film by three-time Academy Award winning director Barbara Kopple, which was shown at the Tribeca film festival and on the A&E network in May, 2005. In 1993, she was the subject of another documentary about women war reporters, 'No Man's Land' which followed her working in Sarajevo.

Janine di GiovanniShe has also made two long format documentaries for the BBC. In 2000, she returned to Bosnia to make 'Lessons from History,' a report on five years of peace after the Dayton Accords. The following year she went to Jamaica to report on a little-known but tragic story of police assassinations of civilians, 'Dead Men Tell No Tales.' Both films were critically acclaimed. Born in the United States, Janine di Giovanni began reporting by covering the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980's and went on to report nearly every violent conflict since then. Her trademark has always been to write about the human cost of war, to attempt to give war a human face, and to work in conflict zones that the world's press has forgotten. She continued writing about Bosnia long after most people forgot it. In 2000, she was one of the few foreign reporters to witness the fall of Grozny, Chechnya, and her depictions of the terror after the fall of city won her several major awards. She has campaigned for stories from Africa to be given better coverage, and she has worked in Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Benin, Burkino Faso, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Liberia, as well as Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, East Timor and Chechnya.

Janine di GiovanniDuring the war in Kosovo, di Giovanni travelled with the Kosovo Liberation Army into occupied Kosovo and sustained a bombing raid on her unit which left many soldiers dead. Her article on that incident, and many of her other experiences during the Balkan Wars, 'Madness Visible' for Vanity Fair in June 1999, won the National Magazine Award. It was later expanded into a book for Knopf/Bloomsbury, and has been called one of the best books ever written about war. Madness Visible has been optioned as a feature film by actress Julia Roberts production company, Revolution Films. Di Giovanni has written several books: Ghosts by Daylight: A Memoir of War and Love (Bloomsbury/Knopf 2011); The Place at the End of the World: Essays from the Edge (Bloomsbury 2006); Madness Visible (Bloomsbury/Knopf 2004); Against the Stranger (Viking/Penguin 1993) about the effect of occupations during the first intifada on both Palestinians and Israelis; The Quick and The Dead about the siege of Sarajevo; and the introduction to the best-selling Zlata's Diary about a child growing up in Sarajevo. Her work have been anthologized widely, including in The Best American Magazine Writing, 2000.

Janine di Giovanni"I never set out to be a war correspondent. But when I went to Palestine in the late '80s and saw the refugee camps, I realised that I wanted to write about people who were living in inhuman conditions. If I could give them a voice, I figured, that would be a great achievement in life. I recently had a chance to go to Syria, but it would have involved crossing over the mountains with smugglers. You have to weigh up these things: is it going to be a great story? Is it worth the risk? In the end, I thought it wasn’t wise. Maybe 10 years ago, before I had a child, I might have gone. These days, newspapers want you to risk your life on patrol in Afghanistan for £80 a day, and I won't do that. I've been doing this job too long. I know what can happen." "My husband, reporter Bruno Girodon, was shot by a sniper in Libya. It was during the fall of Tripoli, and it's a miracle that he's still alive. However, he lost 40 per cent of his hearing as a result. He got an amazing story, but he’s now disabled. So it think it's really important for young journalists have to weigh up the risks of this job. Since the Arab Spring, there’s a real threat to female reporters. You have to take more care, be very respectful of the kind of culture you’re in, and dress appropriately. The qualities needed to become a war correspondent, however, are the same for both men and women: determination, perseverance, empathy, compassion, courage."

Janine di Giovanni"I'd have to say that my proudest moment was becoming a mother. If I’d won all the awards and hadn't had my son, I wouldn't have felt complete. In terms of career, though, I would say the siege of Sarajevo – which was a crucial war to be a witness at because of the suffering of the civilian population, which we, as reporters, really needed to document. The second would be the fall of Grozny, Chechnya, in the winter of 2000. No one knew what was happening: there were no aid organisations, no UN, no witnesses. It was an incredibly gruesome, horrible war and it was freezing the whole time. But I stuck it out. I'm proud of that." "You don’t have to go to a warzone to tell a story of injustice. Any story in which you give someone a voice, who otherwise wouldn’t have one, is worthy. Any reporter who’s done that job – it doesn’t matter where it is – should be proud. It could be people suffering in Manchester or someone suffering racial abuse in south London – I just saw the Stephen Lawrence documentary and was almost in tears. I have one motto by which I live. I heard it from the photographer Eve Arnold. “Go everywhere, see everything."

TED profile of Janine di Giovanni
In Love and War - Vogue article
Janine di Giovanni Official Website
Follow Janine on Twitter
Join her at Facebook

Janine di Giovanni on France 24 News

Janine di Giovanni Speech at TED


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There are two annual TED conferences in Long Beach/Palm Springs and in Edinburgh, Scotland that bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. See Janine di Giovanni at TED where they bring together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design.


Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats... take a look

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