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FishbowlDC Interview: An “Affair” to Remember w/ CNN’s Jill Dougherty

APPROVED JILL.bmp In honor of President Obama’s trip to Moscow next week, we decided to interview someone who knows a thing or two about Russia and foreign policy. So who better than CNN’s Jill Dougherty? Dougherty is CNN’s foreign affairs correspondent and former Moscow bureau chief. We were able to snag a few minutes with Jill just in time — she leaves Washington for Moscow tomorrow and will be reporting on-the-ground throughout the president’s trip.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your career? The biggest challenge was having faith in myself. It took a long time. What helped was concentrating on the people who want – and need – the information I was giving them and not concentrating on myself and how I came across.

Any regrets? Absolutely no regrets about the work, although I wish the day were longer than 24 hours so I could spend more time with the people I love.

You’ve held positions for CNN all over the world. What was your favorite and why? Moscow – hands down. It’s a country with amazing people and a strong and beautiful culture that attracted me from the first day I started studying it and the Russian language.

What single person has played the biggest role or has had the biggest influence on your career? There have been several. But I think back to my college teacher, Sister Kathleen Dierdre Guerin, who taught me to love words and how to write.

What is the biggest challenge that Hillary Clinton will face in her new role? Making her case to President Obama on issues she cares about and has opinions about…with which he might not agree. If Mr. Obama decides to do the opposite of what she thinks is right, she still will have to find a way to publicly support that policy — that’s not easy.

Has being a female journalist helped or hindered your ability to get “access” while reporting internationally? In some countries men do not take women seriously. But I find that if you keep at it, those men sometimes come around. The hardest part is not reacting to the initial encounter by calling them “idiots.”

What one living person would qualify as your “dream” interview? It would be too easy to name someone famous. I’m more interested in regular people whom fate throws in your way, who tell me about their lives and they find meaning and faith, sometimes in the most difficult circumstances.

What does your morning reading list include? CNN.com first thing in the morning (as well as throughout the day), then a short email version prepared by CNN of all the important articles from a number of publications, then Washington Post, Financial Times and New York Times on line. Plus listening to NPR and checking out some international sites, including Russian and Brazilian ones.

How would you spend a “perfect weekend?”
If I could travel, it would be to Rio de Janeiro for a weekend of jogging on the beach, drinking coconut water, listening to music, dancing and talking with friends. If it’s staying in the U.S., it’s sleeping in, jogging, biking, going to a play or catching some music, and meeting friends.

Who is your favorite active journalist (excluding CNN)? I actually have quite a few I like for different reasons. The one I really respect is Bob Schieffer of CBS. He defines the word “fair.”

More after the jump…


What subject line in an email grabs your attention? “Please read this” or “Do not erase!”

Share something most people don’t know about you. I have a twin sister.

What is one thing you’ve yet to check off your must-do list for life? Writing a novel.

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