Isha Sesay Leaves CNN In Defiance Of ‘Trumpian Domination Of Media’

Written by Ann Brown

Isha Sesay spent 13 years on CNN International as one of its most popular correspondents. Now Sesay has announced she will be leaving the network, due in part to the continuous Trump-focused coverage.

Sesay made the announcement via Twitter: “it’s really happening, folks!! After more than a decade behind the desk with those three red letters… I HAVE LEFT CNN.”

The British journalist of Sierra Leonean descent, has worked as an anchor and correspondent for CNN International since 2005.

“I’ve been at CNN for 13 years, it’s the end of a huge chapter,” Sesay explains to What We See. “It’s been such a tremendous time, such an eventful 13 years–I feel like I grew up working there. I showed up as a 30-year-old in 2005, with two suitcases and a one-year contract–I’ve managed to make that last 13 years! It’s been amazing, I’ve been married when I was there, divorced when I was there, it’s all happened.”

During her years with CNN, it seems Sesay became disillusioned with the media, especially Western media. “It’s all so Trump-focused,” she explains. “He sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. The media is following that lead to the exclusion of almost everything else, in a meaningful way. For me, personally, it’s not what I want to spend all my time doing.”

Sesay was also disappointed in the way that the Western media covers Africa. “I want to put a focus on Africa in the way I wish all international media would cover Africa,” she says. “Now it’s either underreported or not reported with the right nuance and context. I’m going to turn my attention to being one in this new army of people who are moving into this space, who are representing Africa in a new way.”

Sesay will remain busy even though she is off the air. She is working on a book and will focus on her charity work. “It’s an exciting time for me — and a nerve-wracking one,” she says. “I’m writing a book about the Chibok girls, it’s being released in May 2019. It really speaks to where my head is at, currently–a lot more coverage about Africa, a lot more work on the continent, and a lot more focus on young girls. That’s what I’m about right now.”

She will also give more time to her charity. “I want to spend more time with my girls,” she says. She speaks about “her girls” often and warmly, with a sense of responsibility ringing through. Her girls are the girls of W.E. Can Lead, a nonprofit she set up in Sierra Leone. The girls of Sierra Leone face unique challenges, like teenage pregnancy, a lack of education, and early marriage due to extreme poverty. W.E. Can Lead has helped hundreds of girls understand their potential–and given them the tools to excel through education and empowerment.”

According to Sesay, she is building the leaders of tomorrow. “There are over 600 girls in my leadership development program. It’s been growing exponentially, with a view to moving beyond Sierra Leone to the rest of the continent. I feel like I’m nurturing the next generation of female leaders–changing homes, communities, then countries and the continent. I’m talking about leadership at every level, we’re empowering these girls and helping them to understand their own power,” she notes.


Isha Sesay
Isha Sesay arrives at the 2016 Pre-Golden Globes Art for Amnesty Recognition Brunch at The Chateau Marmont on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP)



Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Isha Sesay arrives at the 2016 Pre-Golden Globes Art for Amnesty Recognition Brunch at The Chateau Marmont on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP) IMAGE: ANITA SANIKOP