Battista earned a bachelor's degree in radio, television, and film production at Northwestern University, and after beginning her career at a radio station in Raleigh, North Carolina, she moved on to be an anchor, reporter and producer with WRAL-TV. She was employed at WRAL before joining CNN in 1981. On November 17, 2006, Battista returned to WRAL to co-anchor a special "reunion" newscast celebrating the station's 50th anniversary.
With CNN, Battista started as an anchor on the CNN Headline News station, and was moved to the main network in 1988, where she served as host of numerous daily and regularly scheduled shows as well as handling anchor and reporting duties. She anchored shows: CNN WorldDay, CNN NewsDay, CNN NewsHour, CNN Daybreak (during Gulf War), CNN PrimeNews and CNN WorldNews. During that time, she also reported on historic events including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Gulf War, and the September 11 terrorist attacks. Battista also hosted a regular program CNNI World News (1600 CET) on the CNN International network since 1992, when CNN/US show CNN WorldDay was canceled due to expanding of CNN Morning News. Her unique style (crossed eyes and deer-in-the-headlights gaze) was often parodied on Saturday Night Live. She was also very popular in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany, while she anchored Headline News.
In 1998, Battista was named as the host of the first multi-platform interactive talk show, TalkBack Live, which ran for an hour on weekday afternoons. Battista left CNN after the merger of CNN's parent company, Time Warner, with America Online in 2001. She joined her husband John Brimelow's firm, Atamira Communications, and has provided strategic counsel to a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. Battista remains active in television and is a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
In 2009, Battista made periodic, part-time contributions to ONN; the Onion News Network, her first report was released in February 2009. Clips of these contributions can be seen at http://www.bobbiebattista.com/the-vault/
Battista, who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, is also in the process of starting a new video production company focusing on reality television programming. In 2014 Battista began hosting "On the Story" on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
While employed at CNN, Battista was recognized with a number of awards. She wrote and produced a series on youth crime involving five stations, and was the recipient of a Peabody Award for her efforts. She also received a nomination for a CableACE Award.
She died of cervical cancer on March 3, 2020, at the age of 67.