Born in Ashford, Kent, the son of the ITN newscaster Antony Brown, Ben Brown was educated at the Sutton Valence School, an Independent school. During high school, Brown was on the debate team, and took second place in the national debating championships. He won an Open Scholarship to Keble College, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, before graduating from the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies with a diploma with distinction. He joined Radio Clyde in Glasgow as a reporter, and later became a reporter for Radio City in Liverpool.
In 1986, Ben joined Independent Radio News, covering major stories from superpower summits to the Hungerford massacre. He joined BBC TV News two years later and was a Foreign Affairs Correspondent until 1991, reporting the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War, from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
He was appointed Moscow Correspondent in 1991, where he witnessed the final collapse of Communism and the fall of Mikhail Gorbachev. He was at the Russian Parliament when troops loyal to President Boris Yeltsin stormed it in 1993, and the following year he was in Chechnya for the start of the civil war. His coverage of that conflict won him several international prizes, including the Bayeux War Correspondent of the Year Award and the Golden Nymph Award from the Monte-Carlo Television Festival.
In January 1995, Ben resumed his roving role as a foreign correspondent, based in London. He has covered the break-up of Yugoslavia extensively, reporting from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo, where his stories helped to secure several awards for the BBC, including a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award.
In 2001 he won the Bayeux-Calvados Award for war correspondents for the second time for his coverage of the Intifada in Israel.
More recently, Ben was embedded with British troops in the Iraq war. Ben wrote about his experiences in a book, The Battle for Iraq, notably how a British soldier saved his life by opening fire on an Iraqi militiaman who was just about to shoot Ben in the back with a rocket-propelled grenade. Ben covered the first Gulf War in 1991, and his account of that, All Necessary Means' was also published.
In December 2010, Brown was criticised by viewers for adopting a "highly accusatory" tone during an interview he conducted on BBC News with Jody McIntyre, a political activist with cerebral palsy who had been dragged from his wheelchair by Metropolitan Police officers during a recent student protest march through London.
Brown is currently a relief presenter on the BBC News Channel.
In May 2017, he was slapped on the arm by a passer-by while conducting a live interview on the street in Bradford. The female passer-by walked into shot, looked into the camera and said "Absolutely fantastic". After looking at the woman, Brown did not ask her to leave, but reached out his arm to move her to one side and "pushed the woman away, his hand on her chest". The BBC said that no further action would be taken as it was "clearly an accident".
Brown wrote a novel based on his experiences of war reporting, entitled Sandstealers. The novel was published in May 2009 by HarperCollins.