No Ordinary Assignment (HarperCollins, 2023) is almost an understated title for Jane Ferguson’s memoir.
Ferguson is an award-winning journalist who has traveled from one war-torn country to the next all in the name of providing viewers the truth.
While news executives often want what’s known in the TV world as the “bang-bang” of war, she wanted to show the human side of what happens when there is all that “bang-bang” of military might going off.
Ferguson grew-up in Northern Ireland where gunfire and political unrest were the norm.
Today, she is a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and a contributor to the New Yorker.
Her personal journey is worth noting—she had humble beginnings, had to prove herself as a woman, and didn’t take no for an answer.
It’s sad to think 38-year-old women are still having to break barriers, having to fit a certain physical image to be on the air, and that they are not taken as seriously as male colleagues.
While the book isn’t a feminist rant, it does point out the realities of the news business—especially television.
What No Ordinary Assignment also offers readers is a look at war-torn regions of the world that don’t always make the front pages of U.S. newspapers or the lead story on TV unless it’s something that involves the U.S. like the fall of Kabul.
Ferguson points out where the U.S. media fell short in telling foreign stories.
She explains why we all need to be paying attention to conflicts around the world.
I was enthralled with this book. Ferguson’s personal story is gripping, while the reporting she has done is even more captivating. If this book doesn’t convince you of the need for foreign correspondents and the necessity to support quality journalism, well, I don’t know what will.