Big stories make or boost stars. While the drama and scope of the tragedy wrought by the tsunami in southern Asia generally brought out the best in the journalists who have covered it in the first two weeks, audiences in the United States found themselves absorbed by the first-rate reporting of some correspondents who are not well-known.
Among the high-profile standouts were CNN rising star Anderson Cooper, ABC News’ leading lady Diane Sawyer and NBC’s indefatigable freelance war correspondent Kevin Sites, who had left Iraq for a commune-with-nature vacation, which he cut short to volunteer for duty in Thailand.
Here are some of the lesser-known correspondents who have risen to the occasion:
w Nick Watt, London-based ABC News correspondent: The Brit joined ABC News in 1997 as a tape librarian and served as a producer-reporter on many of the biggest stories of the past few years, from war and famine in Liberia and Sudan to the school siege in Beslan, Russia, last year and the war in Iraq. He popped up in Sri Lanka Dec. 26 and five days later in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where Ms. Sawyer pulled him into the spotlight with her on “Good Morning America.”
“Nick is one of the first people to raise their hand for the tough assignments,” said “ABC World News Tonight” executive producer John Banner. “Nick’s a new face with a lot of experience and even more potential.”
w Barry Peterson, Tokyo-based CBS News correspondent: After 27 years with CBS, more than half of those years in such outposts as Moscow, London and Japan, Mr. Peterson reminded people of how surely a well-traveled reporter can find the heart on a dramatic story. In a particularly touching piece for “CBS Sunday Morning,” Mr. Peterson wrote about the feelings provoked by his encounters with survivors in Thailand. Of one woman looking for her German boyfriend, he said, “She could hardly speak. We could hardly listen.”
w Aneesh Raman, Bangkok-based CNN video correspondent: Mr. Raman is a member of the new digital news-gathering unit that has laptops and will travel because they can shoot, write and edit their own material in the field. Hour after hour, day after day, he has filed long and fluid stand-up reports from Phuket, Thailand. “They’re so used to doing breaking news,” said CNN International Senior VP Rena Golden. “He has this great sense of recall.”
w Hugh Riminton, Hong Kong-based CNN International senior anchor: Mr. Riminton, a bespectacled New Zealander, was anchoring for Australia’s Channel 9 when CNNI convinced him to move to Hong Kong-which is where he was having Christmas dinner with a CNNI executive when he heard about the tsunami. Though he had not yet debuted on CNNI, he didn’t hesitate to say, “I know the area,” and volunteer to head for Sri Lanka, picking up a visa at the airport. He made what was clearly hard look easy.
w Satinder Bindra, New Delhi-based CNN bureau chief and correspondent: Mr. Bindra, whose previous experience included covering South Asia for the CBC and Canadian Television, joined CNN as the overseer of coverage for India and South Asia in 1999. He ended a report on survivors in Galle, Sri Lanka, by summoning up the image of an 11-year-old boy he had met whose father and sister were presumed dead. “You can’t help but think … how his life is just forever changed no matter what happens, no matter when the relief gets there.”