Spotlight On: Ammar Albadran

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Ammar Albadran is a versatile TV producer who has held positions at CNN and Scripps News (formerly Newsy). He is also a Board Member of the Clarkston Community Center, and a valued member of the Clarkston community.

However, things weren’t always this way for Ammar. Originally from Basra, Iraq, Ammar first worked as a freelancer for the BBC World Service Trust, founding the TV and radio station Al Mirbad in the process. Later, moving to Jordan and then applying for refugee status to enter the United States, Ammar and his family waited five years before finally being granted permission to come to America. Selecting Atlanta, Georgia from a list of prospective cities, Ammar used his selection as a springboard to move ever closer to his ultimate goal of working for CNN.

Things weren’t such smooth sailing, however. Despite having a professional contact from his time in Jordan and Iraq offer to set up a meeting with CNN managers, Ammar’s progress toward CNN was waylaid by a series of circular meetings that left him unsure of where or how to apply for a position with the news media giant.

Left with no one at CNN to take his call, in the meantime Ammar took a job as a doorman at the Omni Hotel next door to the CNN Center in an effort to meet as many CNN employees as possible. For three years Ammar worked hard at the Omni until one day he finally broke through with Johnita Due, then-VP and assistant general counsel at CNN.

Recommended for a job on the CNN International Desk, Ammar was thrilled to have his chance at working for one of America’s leading newsrooms. But difficulty with English proved a challenge for Ammar, despite his long-tenured journalism experience. After just four days of training, Ammar bowed out of the position, feeling it not to be a good fit.

“It was the biggest disappointment of my whole life,” he said.

However, Ammar remained resilient. Refusing to let his dream for CNN pass, Ammar enrolled at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, right here in Clarkston, taking courses in English as a Second Language, computer technology, US history, and American government. Ammar also worked as a digital media assistant while a student at GSU.

In 2017, Ammar resolved to give CNN another try. Having kept in touch with a colleague from the International Desk, Paul Ferguson, Ammar reached back out and was eventually selected for a summer internship on the Desk.

“My English was much better than the first time,” Ammar recounted. “I was much more confident. I was able to handle everything, even though it was still difficult.”

After succeeding with the internship his second time out, Ammar began applying for internal positions with CNN and eventually snagged a job as an associate producer on the CNN Airport Network. From 2017 to 2021 you could find Ammar’s work on TV monitors everywhere from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to your local gas station. And in October 2021, Ammar parlayed his experience at the Airport Network to yet another CNN position, this time as a field production supervisor.

Though his journey was beset by challenge, Ammar never let his circumstance defeat his determination: “If you want something, if you focus on something – people will direct you and show you the way.”

“Spotlight On” is a new series by the Clarkston Community Center, highlighting the backgrounds and experiences of our diverse staff and board of directors. We will have more to read from this series soon. If you’re interested in being a part of the CCC family or in sharing your own unique Clarkston story, please contact [email protected].

This piece was written with reference to the TurnerNow article “A dream realized: From Iraqi refugee to CNN AP” originally published on April 27, 2018.