David Fanning, Founder & Executive Producer of FRONTLINE, Honored with the PBS “Be More” Award

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AUSTIN, TX; May 13, 2015 – PBS today announced that David Fanning, the founder and executive producer of the renowned investigative documentary series FRONTLINE, is the recipient of the 11th PBS “Be more” Award. This annual tribute celebrates individuals who embody the spirit of helping Americans to discover more, to experience more, and to “Be more.” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger presented the award at the PBS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

David Fanning launched FRONTLINE on PBS in 1983 and has served as its executive producer throughout its 33 seasons. Under his leadership, the series has won a host of awards for broadcast journalism, and Mr. Fanning has garnered innumerable honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 2013.
“David’s contributions to PBS, journalism and American society cannot be overstated,” said Ms. Kerger. “For more than 30 years, FRONTLINE has investigated the most contentious and complex issues of our times with exacting attention to journalistic standards. David’s career defines both editorial integrity and the tenacious pursuit of telling the stories that need to be told. He has created a trusted window that enables viewers to explore new ideas, examine important issues and experience different viewpoints – all of which are pillars of PBS’ mission and essential elements to helping people ‘Be more.’”

About David Fanning

David Fanning has been executive producer of FRONTLINE since its first season in 1983. After 33 seasons and more than 600 films, FRONTLINE remains America's longest-running investigative documentary series on television. The series has won all of the major awards for broadcast journalism: 69 Emmys, including a special Emmy Award for excellence in documentary filmmaking; 31 duPont-Columbia University Awards; 17 Peabody Awards; 13 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards; eight Television Critics Awards; and eight Banff Television Awards. In 1990 and in 1996, FRONTLINE was recognized with the Gold Baton -- the highest duPont-Columbia Award -- for its "total contribution to the world of exceptional television." In 2002, the series was honored with an unprecedented third Gold Baton for its post-Sept. 11 coverage, a series of seven hour-long documentaries on the origins and impact of terrorism.

Mr. Fanning -- who was awarded Harvard University's 2010 Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism and recently received the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award -- began his filmmaking career as a young journalist in South Africa. His first films, Amabandla AmaAfrika (1970) and The Church and Apartheid (1972), produced for BBC-TV, dealt with race and religion in his troubled homeland. He came to the U.S. in 1973 and began producing and directing local and national documentaries for KOCE, a public television station in California. His film Deep South, Deep North (1973) was a PBS/BBC co-production and the first in a long succession of collaborations between U.S. and European television. In 1977, Fanning came to WGBH Boston to start the international documentary series WORLD. As executive producer, he produced and presented more than 50 films for PBS in five years. With director Antony Thomas, Fanning produced and co-wrote Death of a Princess (1980). Then in 1982, again with Thomas, he produced Frank Terpil: Confessions of a Dangerous Man, which won the Emmy Award for best investigative documentary.

In 1982, Mr. Fanning began the development of FRONTLINE. The series has worked with well over 200 producers and as many journalists, covering a wide range of domestic and foreign stories. Its signature has been to combine good reporting with good filmmaking. Reviewers and critics have been lavish in their praise, calling it “the most consistently important weekly hour on television” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “one of the most distinguished in television history” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

With Mr. Fanning’s enthusiastic encouragement, one of FRONTLINE’s singular achievements has been its embrace of digital platforms. In 1995, FRONTLINE developed one of the first deep-content Web sites in history. By putting interviews, documents and additional editorial materials on the Web, the series made its journalism transparent and changed the nature and content of broadcast journalism. As of 2015, there are more than 180 full-length documentaries streamed on the series' Web site. Rather than an ephemeral one-time transmission, the documentaries and all their ancillary materials are now preserved on the series web site, one of the largest sites of its kind.

In 2004, Mr. Fanning received the Columbia Journalism Award, the highest honor awarded by the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, recognizing "Singular journalistic performance in the public interest ... David Fanning and his signature program, FRONTLINE, have turned a commitment to probing journalism and public service into an enduring national conversation, without which far too many important issues would remain veiled or hidden altogether."

About the PBS “Be more” Award

The PBS “Be more” Award is an annual award that recognizes extraordinary individuals who inspire people of all ages to expand their horizons, to experience growth and adventure, to explore new ideas and to be more. Based on PBS’ award-winning “Be more” brand campaign, the award’s previous recipients are Ken Burns, Joan Ganz Cooney, Rebecca Eaton, Jim Lehrer, Bill Moyers, Fred Rogers, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gwen Ifill, Alberto Ibargüen and Miles O’Brien.

About PBS
PBS, with over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 103 million people through television and over 33 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

Media Contact:

Jan McNamara, PBS, jmcnamara@pbs.org, 703-739-5028