“... Sometimes in order to grow, you have to make yourself really uncomfortable..."
A day-in-the-life of Anne-Marie Green is one that not many would be able to handle, let alone flourish in… as Green does. A correspondent for CBS News who heads three morning shows, a mother and wife, and a curiosity that allows her to tell the stories of real people in a beautiful way, she truly is every woman.
By Sydney Champagne
Photography: Tony Gale
Her day begins at the broadcast center at 2 a.m., where she has two hours to get her hair and makeup done, while catching up on the news from the night before so she is adequately prepared for her first show at 4 a.m. “I’m here for the early risers or the people who never went to bed from yesterday,” she tells us with a smile.
Following that first show, she attends an editorial meeting to get prepped on the day’s interviewees and the direction of her next two shows, before jumping back on screen at 7 a.m. for an hour-long news show she anchors alone that is streamed on CBS’s app and website. She does a third show from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and then her work day is over and she begins her day as a mom and wife. Commenting on the irregularity of her work life, Green says, “I don’t know many people who do it”. But is quick to add, “I could not do it without the amazing producers and writers that I work with”.
Green’s career began in Ontario, Canada and she reflects on how her first job there changed her perspective on storytelling. At that first job interview, she recalls how the news station felt that anyone could learn how to do TV, telling her “interesting people make interesting television.. so you should hire interesting people”. So she had arrived at the interview with what she described as a “straight-laced reporter package covering the news”, but they wanted to hear something more interesting that no one else was covering. Not discouraged, Green set off into the community and found a soft news story about a city-wide garage sale. “I knew that everyone was going to be digging into their basements and bringing out their quirky little items that they reluctantly wanted to get rid of and realised all those items were gonna have stories of their own” she says. “How they had loved it once and why they’re leaving it now; hoping to pass it on someone else. And I thought, in the telling of this story, telling of this stuff, I’m going to also be telling the story of the people and therefore telling the story of the city. And it got me the job.”
Though there are many heart warming stories that are covered, life as a journalist is not an easy path, and it can be very difficult to remain emotionally detached in some of the breaking stories and the people in them. Green is very cognisant of this, and though she admits she has struggled from time to time reporting on various tragedies, especially ones that concern children, she is always determined not be a distraction from the story.
“... I want to know, how far can the human spirit go?..."
“Part of my role is to deliver other people’s story with compassion, with empathy, and not be a distraction,” she says, “And if I start to fall apart then I am distracting from their story. And that’s, you know, the exact opposite of what I want to do.”
Green’s journalism roots are in Toronto, but she made the brave decision of uprooting her whole life and moving to Philadelphia to work at CBS.
“I had a really good job in Toronto,” she says. “I was working at this cool station where all of the celebrities sort of came through and stuff like that. I also knew that I didn’t want to stay at the party too long. I knew that sometimes you just have to push yourself towards growth.” She continues, telling us that she was “miserable” about this choice in the beginning. “Sometimes in order to grow, you have to make yourself really uncomfortable.”
In recent years journalism as an industry has been criticized for its sometimes biased delivery of news, and ‘the meeja’ has become somewhat of a derogatory term. Why would one want to become a journalist in the first place? Green’s reason is one that stems from a great interest in people. She told us a story of her favorite interview she’s done commenting that people usually think she is going to name some celebrity on a red carpet. Her answer couldn’t be any more opposite. This interview was with an older woman who had lost her husband, daughters, and niece in a drunk-driving accident and was now an executive for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The story Green was set to deliver was a standard one about drunk driving, but right at the end she was struck by the new life this widow had built for herself after all the loss she had endured. Years later, she had found love again and remarried, and she and her husband were fostering a set of siblings who they were in the process of adopting. In this moment, Green remarks that she was “blown away by the strength of the human spirit”.
“A primary reason why I got involved in journalism is, it’s [a] ground observation adventure into the human spirit,” she continues. “And part of it has to do with, if you can do something amazing, well maybe I can do something amazing”
Remaining fair as a journalist is always challenging, especially with an emotional story but Green was one of the many journalists who found themselves having to do reporting in a time where it seemed the world was being flipped upside down. In 2020, the scope of her job changed drastically, working entirely from home and having to choose her words very carefully when reporting on delicate issues such as the murder of George Floyd. “The pandemic certainly put a real spotlight on a lot of the areas that were…where inequality was sort of just taken for granted. The health care system is a perfect example of that,” she says. “It was a relief to hear people talk really openly about things that needed to be said. Sometimes in news, you choose your words delicately because you have to remain unbiased… so you can’t always say things the way you would like to in a professional capacity. And it was nice, for me, to hear people say things unedited.”
From reporting on garage sales to a pandemic to Black Lives Matter protests, Green truly has seen it all. She has a knack for human connection that draws you into the stories she is reporting on, and from our conversation it is clear that her passion for individuals’ stories is still very well alive. “I want to know, how far can the human spirit go?” she told us, and it is questions like that which keep the true purpose of journalism alive today.