By H.M. Cauley
While her husband and three children sleep snug in their Buckhead beds, Rosemary Church keeps tabs on what the wide-awake world is doing. As the anchor for CNN International’s World Report, she heads to work after the kids have had dinner and spends the night reporting on events from time zones where it’s a regular business day.
Church, who has 25 years’ reporting experience, is well suited to the international scene. Her own background is a mélange of nationalities: She was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland; spent her earliest years in London; then moved to Australia when she was 8. “So I’m not an Australian and not really English,” she says with a laugh.
Church graduated from the Australian National University in the capital, Canberra, where she switched from anthropology to media studies. While working in the country’s National Media Liaison Service, she spent weekends reporting for a local station and subbing as the anchor when needed. From there, she headed farther south to Tasmania as the evening news anchor at a Hobart station, where the job led to a national broadcast at noon. “That really put me on the map and got me offered a job for a satellite service,” she recalls. “But it was exhausting; I went out and did stories through the day, then I’d run in, get into makeup and do the show.” Being in the Asian-Pacific region put Church in the scope of CNN. She sent in a tape, flew to Atlanta for an audition and, in 1998, was offered a job. “At that point, it was the most thrilling thing in my life,” she says.
Church arrived in Atlanta ahead of her husband of then three years. “I can’t even explain the novelty of coming to live in America as an Australian/Brit,” she says. “I got on that plane as if I was getting on a bus, but it was a real turning point.”
Some of the biggest adjustments Church has had to make didn’t involve work as much as culture. “What really astounded me—and still does—is the pace at which Americans live their lives. Australians are laid-back; Americans stuff so much in! Australians take more than four weeks for vacation; in America, it’s a badge of honor not to take vacation. And I still have problems understanding what people are saying sometimes.”
Her “three little Australian/Americans” are jammed between the two cultures, as well as the intense juggling act she performs to be mom and news anchor. For Church, a typical day begins late in the afternoon, when 11-year-old Madeleine and 9-year-old twins Hannah and James get home from school.
“We do homework, soccer, piano, violin, baseball—all that running around, then we have dinner, and I go off to work,” Church says. “I’m home by 5:30 in the morning, and I have a half hour to chatter with my husband—who works in the wine industry here—before he gets the children off to school. It’s very finely balanced, but we keep it on track for the most part. The kids all have their jobs—helping with the washing, doing stuff in the kitchen —and they complain because, apparently, no other kid on the street has chores.”
Church has managed to change her body clock so working overnight isn’t as physically grueling anymore. And, she says, the wee hours are an exciting time to be on the news desk.
“We’ve had breaking stories like Bin Laden being killed, Thailand’s tsunami or Japan’s earthquake. And lately, with the search for the Malaysian airliner, all of that is happening on Australian hours.”
But in between such intensive global work and her Buckhead family, Church strives to “squeeze in a book here and there.” But that sort of calm doesn’t usually happen very often. “But when I can achieve sitting down quietly with a book, that’s when I know things are going really well!”
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.