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From P.A. to International Correspondent, Vladimir Duthiers on ‘Enormous Responsibility’

VD_1Pulling video and research in a bustling New York City newsroom and reporting from Africa while angry Nigerians protest are on different ends of the TV journalism spectrum. For CNN’s Vladimir Duthiers, one thing led to the other, with only a few short years in between.

“I spent 18 years in global finance…but, I had always been an avid consumer of news,” Duthiers told TVNewser in a phone interview from Nigeria this afternoon. “In 2009, I decided to leave the world of finance for journalism.”

At 38, Duthiers started as a production assistant for Christiane Amanpour, quickly rising up the ranks to become an associate producer on “Anderson Cooper 360.” Cooper mentored Duthiers in reporting, helping him become part of a team that won two Emmys for coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Doing his own enterprise reporting paid off: CNN offered Duthiers their Nigeria correspondent job in January, 2012. At the moment, Duthiers says, the job is “absolutely heartbreaking.”

Duthiers is covering the story of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted two weeks ago by terror group Boko Haram. “It makes you determined to come in and do your job harder the next day, but on the other end, it can be depressing.”

This week, Nigerians have protested over a weak government response to the abductions. “You’re reminded of your enormous responsibility as a reporter to make sure people know what these families are going through, even if you don’t have the images and videos,” Duthiers said.

Getting those elements has proved challenging; the kidnapped girls are presumed to be held in the Sambisa Forest, which is under a state of emergency, making things challenging for reporters who have restricted access.

“Social media has taken the reins with this story,” he continued, noting celebrities like Russell Simmons and Mary J. Blige have been tweeting the hashtag #WhereAreOurGirls. “As a social media campaign takes hold, you now have world leaders chiming in… with more of this, maybe things will change.”

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