Ben Anderson: Award-Winning War Correspondent
He’s in the trenches reporting on the ravages of war and its human toll — true-life dramas that don’t make front page news.
Places You’ve Never Been To, Things You’ve Never Seen
Ben Anderson stands feet away from combat soldiers as they try to rescue prisoners trapped in a dilapidated building. In the distance, plumes of black smoke rise revealing a city smoldering in ruin. It’s war, and Anderson is front and center, risking his life for his reporting.
As an award-winning journalist, television reporter, and writer who is well known for his work on VICE News on HBO and BBC, Anderson goes the distance to get the story. He’s been to some of the most dangerous nations in the world like Afghanistan, North Korea, and Libya, armed with a video camera, pen and paper in hand, watching international politics play out right before his eyes.
Get a firsthand look at Anderson in action in this VICE News video clip…
Anderson was raised in the relatively sleepy hamlet of Bedford, England and now resides in Brooklyn, New York, a thriving center for cutting-edge journalism and film production. His excitement about international events began when he was just 16 and continued to blossom as he learned about international events across the globe. He was particularly interested in the conflicts in the Gaza Strip, Congo, and Iraq.
Anderson’s father, a policeman, wanted a normal life for his idealistic son. During his formative years, he was an avid reader, enabling him to develop his writing skills. After leaving college due to the “slow pace and restrictive learning,” he began his career as an undercover reporter producing frontline exposés on topics as varied as funeral home abuses, the abuse of the mentally ill, and the civil war in Burma.
Captivating Stories and an Accomplished Career
Anderson’s experience not only spans many countries, but different media as well. You can find Anderson’s writing and visual storytelling in notable sources such as Newsnight to HBO and the BBC, The Times, The Guardian, GQ and VBS. While his experience is vast and impressive, there are a few exposés that have stood out to audiences across the world.
In 2003, he was a reporter for Correspondent-Terror in South East Asia which featured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s time with Ramsi Yousef in Manila before the devastating September 11th attacks that rocked the world. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was named “the principal architect” of those attacks in the 9/11 Commission Report.
In another piece with BBC, Anderson traveled to the countries President George W. Bush labeled the “axis of evil.” Holidays in the Axis of Evil, a documentary series where Anderson himself traveled to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, and Cuba to find the weapons of mass destruction President Bush sought.
As Anderson has said, “First it was Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Then George W. expanded the axis of evil to include Cuba, Syria and Libya. All I could find that linked these countries was that you could travel to all six on a tourist visa. So I did.” In Iran, he was detained and threatened with prison and torture.
Anderson is no stranger to danger, just check his body of work. In Taking on the Taliban, a film that resulted from him spending two months in Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province, has been hailed as a documentary that “tells the truth about the Afghan War.”
Another BBC project, The Violent Coast, explores the conflicts on the West African coast, which has been rocked by bloody conflicts throughout history. Fighting ISIS, a 2018 VICE on HBO special report highlights issues arising from American and British troops withdrawing from Afghanistan. During the filming, Anderson assimilated with Iraqi fighters battling ISIS, visited Russian military forces in Syria, and met captured ISIS fighters in Kurdistan. His efforts with this project were rewarded with an Emmy Award.
Decorated War Reporting
Anderson has won multiple awards for his work in both television and print. He was honored with a History Makers Award, a Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Award and was a finalist for three Emmy’s for his efforts as producer, cinematographer, and producer of The Battle of Marjah. Anderson’s documentary, This Is What Winning Looks Like, earned him a Frontline Club Award and a Pris Bayeu Award, and was a finalist for the Rory Peck Award.
Shortly after joining HBO’s VICE as an on-air correspondent and producer, Anderson was nominated for an Emmy in 2015 in the category Outstanding Informational Series or Special as a Senior Producer. Anderson has also won Foreign Press and Rory Peck awards and was twice shortlisted for the Royal Television Society Young Journalist of the Year honor and Prix Europa prizes.
The accomplishments don’t stop there, as it’s not all about film for Anderson, he’s an amazing writer as well. In addition to writing for The New York Times, The Guardian, Esquire, The London Review of Books and GQ, Anderson’s book about his experiences in the war-torn southern provinces of Afghanistan, No Worse Enemy, was published in March 2012, to critical acclaim. The former British Ambassador to Afghanistan praised Anderson as “a brave and exceptionally honest reporter…” and claimed that the work was “essential reading for anyone who wants to know what is really going on in Helmand.” His e-book, The Interpreters, was published in 2015.
Anderson is the only journalist to have ever been filmed undercover with pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain who were tear gassed, shot, beaten, and imprisoned during the Arab Spring of 2011. The reporting Anderson does comes with a price. He turned that into a documentary too. In 2018, Anderson confronted the mental and emotional costs of conflict reporting, that included new treatments for veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Anderson was filmed undergoing MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) assisted therapy, a controversial but effective treatment for soldiers returning from war.
Anderson’s ability to get the story by immersing himself in cultural and political scenarios makes him one of the most celebrated international journalists in the world. As a battle-proven and adept journalist, Anderson has become more than just an idealist, his bravery and pursuit of the truth have enlightened millions of people. Keep up with the latest on Ben Anderson by following his Twitter page.