Media: Star reporter leaves war zone

WHERE WAS CNN's million-dollar reporter and war-zone supernova Christiane Amanpour when the bombs dropped on Belgrade at the weekend? In Brussels.

Like many journalists from Nato countries, Ms Amanpour was asked kindly to leave the Serbian capital at the end of last week. She then decamped to Brussels to interview General Wesley Clark, Nato's Supreme Commander, and decided to stay on for the briefing about the downed Stealth fighter. CNN could still call on two correspondents to file from Belgrade, of course. But the absence of the woman who has to come to personify the network's war-zone coverage in Bosnia and in Iraq has taken some of the lustre out of CNN's reportage.

Amanpour made her name as a a reporter for CNN in Bosnia, sketching out the war from her near-permanent "home" for three years at the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo. She is credited by media co-workers with helping to secure news access to Srebrenica during the winter 1992/93 siege.She has since been sealed with a $1m a year deal with CNN and last year she married Jamie Rubin, adviser to the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

It was this link to the US State Department that prompted suggestions that she represented a more vulnerable target than the average reporter in Belgrade, and so was pulled out. But a CNN spokesman said that she was expelled like many others. Amanpour yesterday travelled to the border between Kosovo and Albania, where she is now reporting on the unfolding refugee crisis. No doubt the network hopes that on her return to the front line she can help it to wrest back some of the initiative now arguably being enjoyed by Sky News. Its main Belgrade reporter Tim Marshall was also expelled on Friday, but he negotiated a way back in and was able, along with the BBC's John Simpson, to report from the site of the downed Stealth fighter on Sunday.

Rhys Williams