Isha Sesay: ‘Why I quit CNN’

Photo Credit: UNWomen/RyanBrown

After 13 years as one of the most recognisable faces and anchors at CNN, the astute Sierra Leonean journalist, Isha essay has called it quits. She confirmed her departure from the American news network, to her 265 thousand Twitter followers on 1 August, giving some of her reasons for leaving in an exclusive with What We Seee. She told the online blog: “[The Media] … It’s all so Trump-focused… For me, personally, it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing…. I’m ready to take control of what I’m talking about [and]  put a focus on Africa in the way I wish all international media would cover Africa.”
Here we picked out the Top 10 “Why I quit CNN” reasons the popular anchor gave What We Seee:
  1. “I’m ready to have a little bit more autonomy and to take the lead in my own life. Being an anchor is fun, it’s glamorous, but it’s very much controlled by other people. I’m ready to have my own say in where I go next.”
  2. “I’ve been at CNN for 13 years, it’s the end of a huge chapter… such an eventful 13 years. I feel like I grew up working there. I showed up as a 30-year-old in 2005, with two suitcases and a one-year contract — I’ve managed to make that last 13 years! It’s been amazing, I’ve been married when I was there, divorced when I was there, it’s all happened.”
  3. “I’m writing a book about the Chibok girls, it’s being released in May 2019. It really speaks to where my head is at, currently — a lot more coverage about Africa, a lot more work on the continent, and a lot more focus on young girls. ”
  4. ‘[The media] It’s all so Trump-focused. He sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. The media is following that lead to the exclusion of almost everything else, in a meaningful way. For me, personally, it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing.”
  5. After a while, I want to do more coverage of the Ebola outbreak, of the elections in Liberia, or any number of things that are happening. I’m ready to take control of what I’m talking about.”
  6. “I want to put a focus on Africa in the way I wish all international media would cover Africa. Now it’s either underreported or not reported with the right nuance and context.
  7. I’m going to turn my attention to being one in this new army of people who are moving into this space, who are representing Africa in a new way.”
  8. “I’m not going to be the only one doing that, I’m one of a group of Africans… There’s a sense of responsibility, a sense that we have to do better.”
  9. “I want to spend more time with my girls.” [Her girls are the girls of WECanLead – a nonprofit she set up in Sierra Leone].
  10. “For me, it’s been wonderful, it’s been a wonderful time doing what I’ve done — I’m ready to have the freedom to do the stories I want. I’m ready to have a little bit more autonomy and lead my own life.

A seasoned and  an award-winning journalist, Isha has covered the major breaking news stories and global events of the past decade. In 2014 she reported from Nigeria on the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.

CNN’s coverage of this story was recognized with a Peabody Award, and Sesay received a Gracie Award for Outstanding Anchor for her exceptional coverage. She also covered the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, interviewing several key officials about the crisis including Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai and President Alpha Conde of Guinea.

In 2013 she reported on the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela from South Africa. In 2012 she led CNNI’s coverage of the United Nations General Assembly from New York, securing interviews with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

In 2011, she played an integral role in CNN/U.S. and CNNI’s joint coverage of major global news events including the protests in Egypt, Japan’s nuclear reactor crisis, the Amanda Knox trial, the fall of Tripoli, which was nominated for a 2012 News and Documentary Emmy, and the royal wedding live from London.

As part of her anchoring and reporting duties, Sesay has interviewed a number of world leaders including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga; President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; President Lech Kaczynski of Poland; Liberian President Ellen John SIrleaf; and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

In addition to her role as anchor and correspondent, Sesay has co-­hosted the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards, the highest accolade for excellent journalism across the continent, for the last five years. Prior to joining CNN, Sesay worked with Sky News and the BBC Networks. (Source:WeCanLead)






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