David Fanning, executive producer of “Frontline,” will be recognized with this year’s Goldsmith Career Award for his distinguished broadcast journalism career by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy today (March 23) at the Harvard Kennedy School. He will receive the award at 6 p.m. in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Fanning began his filmmaking career as a young journalist in South Africa. He came to the United States in 1973 and began producing and directing documentaries for KOCE, a public television station in California. In 1977, he came to WGBH Boston to start the international documentary series “World.”
In 1982, Fanning developed “Frontline.” Its signature has been to combine good reporting with good filmmaking. In 2010, after 27 seasons and more than 530 films, “Frontline” is currently America’s longest-running investigative documentary series on television and has won every major award for broadcast journalism.
In 2001, Fanning’s determination to bring more foreign stories to American audiences led to the creation of “Frontline/World,” a television magazine-style series of programs designed to encourage a new, younger generation of producers and reporters. The emphasis has been on bringing a largely unreported world to viewers through a series of journeys and encounters. Fanning has said that he sees it as a prototype for the future, and a place to build a community of enterprising journalists.
With Fanning’s encouragement, one the singular achievements of “Frontline” has been its embrace of the Internet. Starting in 1995, the show put interviews, documents, and additional editorial materials on the Web, and the series created some of the first deep-content editorial Web sites in history. “Frontline” made its journalism transparent and had a major influence on the nature and content of the show’s broadcast journalism. In 2010, more than 85 hours of full-length documentaries are streamed on the series Web site, which receives 55 million page views annually.