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The Insider

Mar 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann is embedded with the 101st Airborne. His wife is Linda Stouffer, who anchors CNN Headline News weekday afternoons. Their second child is due in mid-May.
“When we talked about this [embedding assignment] quite a while ago, all the prognosticators were saying this will be done by March,” Ms. Stouffer said.
But as time passed without Mr. Strassmann’s being mobilized, the couple decided that rather than focusing on when he’d leave, they’d concentrate on getting things ready for the pending baby.
Suddenly, in late February, Mr. Strassmann was given 24 hours to join the 101st.
Between glimpses of him in his reports for CBS News, there are phone conversations. “He’s been able to call more than I would have expected, just about every day,” she said.
Meanwhile, the ABC News contingent in the war zone includes cameraman Bartley Price, who was in Jordan last week after being ordered by management to evacuate Baghdad, and producer Cristina Babarovic in Kuwait. Mr. Price and Ms. Babarovic are newlyweds-they tied the knot a year ago last December-and they strive to make phone contact twice a day, when they wake up and before going to bed. Lately, she said, “That’s been about 3 a.m.”
They deal with the stress of their assignments and separation by refining plans for the vacation they have scheduled for May. After they attend a wedding in Australia they’ll sail a 35-foot catamaran around the Great Barrier Reef.
“It helps to know there is something to look forward to,” Ms. Babarovic said. For her mother, Gretchen Babarovic, it helps to know she can easily check on her daughter and son-in-law both by e-mail and phone. She’s the longtime executive assistant to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.
Other family ties among journalists in the region last week ranged from the well-known (Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, whose daughter Andrea is CNN’s State Department correspondent and whose son-in-law, Ken Pollack, is a former CIA officer who is an expert on Iraq) to the spitting image (Fox correspondent Greg Kelly, who was doing marathon reporting from his position with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and is the look-alike son of New York police chief Ray Kelly). There also are soon-to-be connections (CNN’s Kelly Wallace and Matt Saal, senior producer of the syndicated hit Chris Matthews Show), and inter-network connections (NBC correspondent Ron Allen, who came out of Baghdad early last week, and his wife, News One correspondent Adaora Udoji, who was filing reports for ABC from Kuwait).