Lisa Ling offers a woman's viewThe former "View" co-host and TV journalist discuses her Women's Showcase appearance and how she coped with her sister's imprisonment in North Korea.
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM
- Born: Aug. 30, 1973
- Lives: Los Angeles
- Spouse: Dr. Paul Song
- Career highlights: reporter, Channel One News; co-host, “The View”; host, “National Geographic Explorer”; correspondent, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
Lisa Ling gained notoriety as the 20-something co-host on the daytime talk show “The View.” But since leaving the show in 2002, her view on the world, and its heart-wrenching injustices against women and children, have sustained her career.
Ling will be the featured speaker at this weekend’s Women’s Showcase at the Fargodome. She plans to talk about the importance of having a global perspective and stepping outside your comfort zone.
Last week, Ling spoke to The Forum from her home in Los Angeles. She had just finished co-hosting “The View” for two days and taped a segment for “Oprah.”
This busy autumn week followed a summer focused on her family. Her sister, journalist Laura Ling, was jailed for five months in North Korea and had been sentenced to 12 years at a labor camp before being released.
Ling talked about her recent work, her sister and politics in the world today.
The Forum: Tell me about the work you’re doing with Oprah.
Lisa Ling: I am Oprah’s field correspondent, so she likes to call me her eyes and ears in the world. I’ve covered everything from rape in the Congo to bride burning in India to tent cities throughout America. So it’s been a real pleasure and honor to be able to work for a show that really tries to raise awareness.
Where did your passion for foreign issues, especially injustice, come from?
I think it came from traveling at a fairly young age. My world was really opened up to me, I would say, in my early 20s when I started traveling in the world. And it’s the kind of thing that I try to encourage young people to do before they become encumbered with jobs and mortgages and family obligations because it is completely life-changing.
Your perspective broadens in ways that you could never imagine, and I think you develop a better appreciation for humanity if you’re able to be in the world at a young age.
Which story that you’ve seen abroad has touched you the most?
It’s such a hard question because I certainly can’t put my finger on one story. I think the reason why I’m fairly good at what I do for a living is because every story that I work on becomes the most important story to me at the time.
Certainly the story I think that has continued to plague me the most and haunt me the most was when I covered the story of gang rape in the Congo for the “Oprah” show. Particularly because I went to the Congo in 2005 and it’s now 2009 and the situation is no better. … I can’t even put into words how utterly devastating it is.
One of the things I’m actually quite excited about, and I recently interviewed her for the Oprah show, is Secretary (Hillary) Clinton has made women’s issues part of her diplomatic agenda. One might say, why would she do that? What do women’s issues have to do with diplomacy? And the reality is a society cannot truly modernize or democratize unless women have a voice. This is something I’ve always felt, and she also believes that women’s issues are national security issues because societies where women don’t have a voice, you find areas that have a lot of extremism, which is certainly a national security threat.
What are your thoughts on the new administration’s foreign policy efforts?
I think that the new administration is a relief because as someone who has spent significant amounts of time in the world, the impression of America worldwide over the last 10 years has really changed a lot.
In the past, when I first started working in the world, I was welcomed with open arms. Then, during the last administration, things changed. I’ve never been treated hostilely, but there were a lot of very antagonistic questions and reactions that I couldn’t really even address properly. I didn’t know why we would call entire people and countries evil.
I would like to talk to you about your sister. How is Laura?
She’s doing great. She’s just doing great.
What has your relationship been like since she was released?
Laura and I have always been closer than any siblings I know. Before she left on this trip, we would probably talk on the phone about five times a day. When she was gone, not speaking to her for weeks on end was devastating on so many levels.
But since she’s been back, I have to actually commend my husband because every second that I’m not working I just want to spend with my sister. And he’s just been terrific about being supportive. He totally understands.
With that close relationship, how were you able to keep your composure while being the family spokesperson?
Well, I can’t say that I was particularly composed. I felt anything but composed. But, it was just what I had to do. And my sister actually said that she found comfort in the fact that she knew that our family would be completely unrelenting in our efforts to bring her home.
What were those five months like for you, as a sister and a journalist?
Well, I stopped working for the entire summer just because there was no story that was more important to me than the story that was happening in my own home. And our family just didn’t really go out much because we were focused on our efforts, but it was difficult to be in public. Without fail, every day people would ask about how my sister was doing and frankly we just didn’t even know.
Did she follow your footsteps into journalism?
I think she did. I had gotten into it at a very young age, and she kind of fell into it. But like with what happened with me, once you start getting exposed to stories, particularly stories in the world, it’s hard to kind of turn your back on them and pretend they don’t exist.
If you go
- What: Women’s Showcase
- When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Lisa Ling takes the main stage at 3 p.m.
- Where: Fargodome
- Tickets: $10 in advance and $12 at the door. (701) 241-5419.
- Online: www.fmwomensshowcase.com; www.lisaling.com
Win Tickets to Women’s Showcase
The Forum is giving away five pairs of tickets for Saturday's Women's Showcase.
To register, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why you want to see Lisa Ling. Be sure to include your name and phone number.
A random drawing will take place at noon Thursday. Winners will be notified and must pick up their tickets at The Forum's downtown office by 5 p.m. Friday.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556