Jim Bittermann Biography


Since joining CNN in 1996, Jim Bittermann has added to the long list of his international assignments undertaken during nearly 25 years of reporting back to the United States from abroad. From CNN’s Paris bureau in recent  years he has covered the death of Princess Diana,  Pope John Paul II’s trips to Cuba, Mexico and Poland, the leadership turmoil in Russia, the political crisis in the Congo, western military actions against Iraq and Yugoslavia, the World Cup and numerous other stories from France, Francophone countries, Africa and the Middle East. Additionally, since April of 1996 he has been a regular contributor of commentaries for NPR in the U.S.

Bittermann came to CNN International from ABC News, where he was a correspondent from April, 1990 to August, 1996. During his years with ABC he covered stories across the Republics of the old Soviet Union; in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Iraq during the Gulf War; and in Somalia during the American deployment there. During the war in the ex-Yugoslavia and Bosnia Mr. Bittermann reported from Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. His long-form projects at ABC included “Betrayed in Blood” on the French blood scandal for Prime Time Live, and “A Perfect Messiah” and “The Fashion Conspiracy” for ABC Nightline.

Prior to joining ABC, Mr. Bittermann was for 10 years European Correspondent for NBC News. From his base In Paris, Mr. Bittermann traveled to Eastern Europe. Northern and Western Africa, the Middle East, Japan, the Soviet Union and Romania. Among other major events he witnessed and reported on were war and invasion in Lebanon, the royal weddings of Princes Charles and Andrew, the revolution in the Philippines, the assassination of Egyptian President Sadat, and the locust plague and famine in Sudan…for which he won an Emmy award in 1988. His long-form projects at NBC in Paris include stories on bullfighters, gypsies and nudists.

Before the Paris bureau, Mr. Bittermann was based in NBC News’ Rome office for two years, from where he covered the Vatican during 1978, the “year of the three Popes” the revolution and the hostage crisis in Iran and the trials and imprisonment of members of the Red Brigades.

From 1975 to 1978, Mr. Bittermann was a Toronto-based Correspondent and Producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “News Magazine.” During his tenure in Canada, he filed investigative stories on a clandestine Soviet ice base, Canadian drinking laws and the treatment of the elderly and dying.

Prior to his Canadian years, Mr. Bittermann was a reporter for WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1973 until 1975, where he won a local Emmy award for reporting on new methods for treating the severely handicapped and covered the aftermath of the Kent State University shootings. Before that he spent a year at the Ford Foundation’s Newsroom program at WQED-TV, the public television station In Pittsburgh. There he won Pittsburgh’s Golden Quill award for an investigative report on truck safety laws and produced and reported hour-long documentaries on the Pittsburgh airport and Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance laws.

In 1971 and 1972, Mr. Bittermann worked on the national presidential campaign staff of,  first, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, and later, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine. For both, he traveled with the campaigns across the United States to produce and distribute campaign radio news briefs.

He began his television career in 1970 at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from where he covered the terrorist bombing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as well as fires, floods, and other mayhem.

Mr. Bittermann’s journalism career began five years earlier with regular summer employment as a newspaper reporter with the Waukegan News-Sun in Waukegan, Illinois. During his university years, he also worked at radio stations, WCIL, Carbondale, Illinois, WSIU, Carbondale, Illinois, WJPF, Herrin, Illinois, WMBD-TV and Radio, Peoria, Illinois and the Southern Illinois University Film Board.

Mr. Bittermann graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio-TV. In 1980 he was named Journalism Alumnus of the Year. He is co-author of “Live From the Trenches; The Changing Role of the Television News Correspondent”, a recently published book on television news reporting. He is a permanent member of the jury for the French Film competition “Les Lumieres de Paris”, a member of the Anglo-American Press Club of Paris, and the Overseas Press Club of New York. He and his wife, Pat Thompson, a television producer, also formerly with ABC and NBC News, live in Paris and have one daughter, Tess.

Member of Jury: French Food Spirit Awards