Jill Dougherty reporting
People around the world recognize the face and voice of Jill Dougherty – that’s what comes from being a star reporter for CNN. But Jill is much more than a leading member of the foreign press corps in Moscow. As a fluent Russian speaker and long-time student of this part of the world, she is herself often in demand for interviews by the Russian and international media.
By Stephen Dewar
How long have you been in Moscow and is this your first time here?
I’ve been in Moscow as Bureau Chief since early 1997, but I’ve been coming to Russia since 1969 when I studied the Russian language at Leningrad State University. I’ve returned many times since and frequently came here on a temporary basis for CNN during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Where else have you lived and worked?
Before coming to Moscow I was White House Correspondent for CNN, covering George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. Before that I worked in Chicago as CNN’s Midwest Correspondent. I began my television career with NBC in Chicago. My first broadcasting job was at the Voice of America USSR Division.
How did you learn Russian?
I started at age 13 in high school. My twin sister Pamela studied with me. We majored in Russian at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She went on to an academic career in Slavic Linguistics and I went into journalism.
You are on call for CNN all day, every day. How long are your typical working days and weeks?
I long ago stopped looking at the clock. The other day we had a live shot at 3:45am Moscow time.
Who is the most impressive Russian you have interviewed?
There is no one person. I think more often of average people who have shown extraordinary courage under the most difficult circumstance. People like Susanna, a mother in Beslan.
Who is the most frightening Russian you have interviewed?
An extremist in St. Petersburg, who cold-bloodedly defended murdering people who have dark skin, as well as people who stand up for them. It was chilling to even look in his eyes when he said it.
What is your favorite book about Russia?
“The Icon and the Axe” by James Billington.
What is your favorite place in Moscow?
On Bolshaya Nikitskaya...just across from the Conservatory...in front of the Russian Orthodox church...in a snowstorm.
Who is your favorite Muscovite, living or dead?
The twentieth century poet Marina Tsvetaeva.
If you could write Moscow’s motto, what would it be?
"Only the strong survive."