Laura Ling

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Laura Ling
Born Laura G. Ling
(1976-12-01) December 1, 1976 (age 41)
Carmichael, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Journalist
Notable credit(s) Channel One News, MTV, Current TV, E! Network
Spouse(s) Iain Clayton[1]
Children 2
Relatives Lisa Ling (sister)

Laura G. Ling (born December 1, 1976[2][3]) is an American journalist and writer. She worked for Current TV as a correspondent and vice president of its Vanguard Journalism Unit, which produced the Vanguard TV series. She was the host and reporter on E! Investigates, a documentary series on the E! Network.[4][5] In November 2014, it was announced that Ling joined Discovery Digital Networks as its Director of Development.[6][7]

Ling is the sister of Lisa Ling, who is a special correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic Explorer, and CNN. Laura Ling and fellow journalist Euna Lee were detained in North Korea after they illegally crossed into North Korea from the People's Republic of China without a visa. They were tried and convicted, then subsequently pardoned after former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-il.[8][9]

Early life

Ling's father Doug is a Chinese immigrant, born in China during the 1920s; her mother Mary Mei-yan (née Wang) is a Taiwanese immigrant from Tainan, Taiwan, and was the head of the Los Angeles office of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.[10] They divorced when Laura was four years old and her sister Lisa was seven.[11][12] Following the divorce, the two sisters were raised in the city of Sacramento, California, by their father. Ling describes herself as Chinese American, but a friend described her as "a true Valley girl ... about as Chinese as the cuisine at Chin Chin".[10]

Ling studied at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. An English teacher at Del Campo who taught both Ling and her sister claimed that when he first knew Ling, she was already interested in following her sister's footsteps into the journalism field. He described her as "different from her sister ... and more determined, in a sense".[10]

Ling graduated with a communications degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998.[13]


Ling's career as a journalist began when she became a correspondent for KCET's SoCal Connected and producer at Channel One News.[14] She co-created Breaking it Down, a documentary series on MTV that aired between 1999 and 2001.[15][16] Afterward, Ling joined Current TV, where she reported on issues about Cuba, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, the West Bank, and the Amazon River, as well as about shantytowns in Sao Paulo, Brazil, gangs and homeless teens in Los Angeles, and underground churches in China. Prior to her detention, she had been reporting about the Mexican Drug War.[14][17]

Ling hosted a one-hour news show on E!. The show premiered on Dec. 8, 2010.[18]

Ling has received a national Edward R. Murrow Award, and was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year in 2009. In 2014, she won an Emmy Award.[19][16]

2009 detention in North Korea

In the last week of March 2009, North Korea announced that two American journalists were detained and would be indicted and tried for illegally entering the country. On May 3, 2009, it was officially announced that Ling and fellow journalist Euna Lee were the journalists that had been detained, after they attempted to film refugees along the border with China.[20] In June 2009, they were sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison for illegal entry into North Korea, and unspecified hostile acts.[21][22] Many in the media called it a show trial.[23] The United States government made diplomatic efforts to oppose this sentence before their release in August 2009.[24]

Lisa Ling stated that when her sister and Lee left the United States, they never intended to cross into North Korea. She also revealed that her sister required medical treatment for an ulcer.[25] Ling was pardoned along with Lee, and they have returned to the United States following an unannounced visit to North Korea by former US President Bill Clinton on August 4, 2009.[9][26] Some human rights activists in South Korea have accused Lee and Ling of needlessly placing North Korean refugees in danger by not being more careful with their tapes and notebooks in the event they were apprehended.[27]

In 2010, Ling co-wrote a memoir, Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home, with her sister Lisa, based on her experiences in North Korea.

Personal life

On June 3, 2010, Ling gave birth to a girl, naming her Li Jefferson Clayton, in Burbank, California. Laura and her husband decided to name the baby Li, after Laura's sister Lisa, and chose Jefferson since it was President Clinton's middle name.[28]

See also

Published works

  • Ling, Laura; Ling, Lisa (2010). Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home. William Morrow. ISBN 0062000675. 


  1. McKinley, Jesse. "Two Paths, Same Fate for Reporters Facing Prison", The New York Times, June 9, 2009. Accessed June 11, 2009. ‘In a June 1 interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Ms. Ling’s husband, Iain Clayton, read a letter from his wife.’
  2. Date of birth found on the California Birth Index 1905-1995, under LING, LAURA G.
  3. "Laura Ling's Father: 'I Worry Quite A Bit'". KCRA-TV. 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  4. Fillo, MaryEllen (2013-03-22). "Laura Ling - Journalist, Author and Documentary TV Host | Hartford Magazine". Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  5. Stelter, Brian (2010-10-11). "MEDIA DECODER - New Host for 'E! Investigates' - Web Log -". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  6. Bloom, David (November 12, 2014). "Laura Ling Joins Discovery Digital Networks As Director of Development". Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  7. "Award-Winning Journalist Laura Ling Joins Discovery Digital Networks". November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  8. "North Korea pardons US reporters". BBC News. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "N. Korean leader reportedly pardons U.S. journalists". CNN. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Churcher, Sharon; Graham, Caroline (2009-08-10), "In peril in Pyongyang? How jailed female journalists were in greater danger sharing a plane with Bill Clinton", The Mail on Sunday, retrieved 2009-08-20 
  11. Castaneda, Erin (2008-04-04), "Journalist (Lisa) Ling shares her own story", Lawrence Journal-World, retrieved 2009-08-20 
  12. Taub, Daniel (2009-08-06), "Journalists arrive in U.S. following imprisonment", Bloomberg News, retrieved 2009-08-07 
  13. McKinley, Jesse (2009-06-10), "Two Paths, Same Fate for Reporters Facing Prison", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-08-20 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Abdulrahim, Raja; Garrison, Jessica (2009-06-11), "Friends speak up for L.A. journalists held by N. Korea", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2009-08-20 
  15. Retrieved April 17, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  16. 16.0 16.1 Biography; Discovery News; November 12, 2014
  17. Catlin, Roger (2009-06-09), "The Dangerous Places of Laura Ling", The Hartford Courant, retrieved 2009-08-20 
  18. "Laura Ling to Host New E! Show". Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  19. "WINNERS OF THE 66th LOS ANGELES AREA EMMY® AWARDS ANNOUNCED" (PDF). Television Academy. July 26, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  20. Michael Y. Park (2009-03-23). "Lisa Ling's Sister Arrested in North Korea". People. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  21. "Reporters get 12-year terms in N. Korea", CNN, June 8, 2009
  22. "North Korea jails US journalists". BBC News. 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  23. Retrieved June 9, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  24. "U.S. Fighting North Korea Labor Camp Sentence for Laura Ling, Euna Lee", by KATIE BOSLAND, SARAH NETTER and KATIE HINMAN, ABC News, June 8, 2009
  25. Huffington Post, 2009-06-08 
  26. "North Korea: 2 US journalists pardoned". Associated Press. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  27. Choe, Sang-hun (2009-08-22), "In South Korea, Freed U.S. Journalists Come Under Harsh Criticism", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-08-24 
  28. Wang, Cynthia (2010-06-03), "Laura Ling names new baby for her sister, Bill Clinton", CNN, retrieved 2010-06-04 [dead link]

External links