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Woodruff’s Goal Was “To Be The Best Damn Foreign Correspondent I Could Be”

Sunday’s Washington Post includes a long feature about Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff. He writes:

  woodruffjan294.jpgWoodruff, for his part, never set out to be a journalist. After growing up in suburban Detroit, he went to the University of Michigan Law School, where roommate Kevin Ruf recalls him as a great rugby and lacrosse player who liked to fish and hunt at his parents’ cabin. “He’s one of those guys, everything seemed pretty effortless for him,” Ruf says.

After practicing law in New York, Woodruff learned Mandarin Chinese and in 1989 moved to Beijing for a teaching post with his new wife, Lee. When the violence erupted at Tiananmen Square, he became a translator and “fixer” for CBS. The couple moved to San Francisco, where Woodruff practiced law for another two years, but shortly after their first child was born, he quit.

“I had tasted something I thought would be so much more fulfilling to me,” Woodruff says.

“While the rest of us were at big law firms making a lot of money,” Ruf says, “Bob got poor Lee to move to Redding, California, so he could be a one-man band at some little Podunk station.” From that $12,000-a-year job, Woodruff gradually jumped to stations in Richmond and Phoenix before joining ABC in 1996, where he was dispatched to Washington and London.

Woodruff says his goal was “to be the best damn foreign correspondent I could be,” and he seemed to follow the Jennings model…

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