May 16, 2005
The "Two Tall Women" Episode
BY Stephen Talbot
This has been an intense period for FRONTLINE/World. We have just completed two stories for our May 17 broadcast about Lebanon and Liberia. On Sesame Street they would call this our "Letter L" show. I call it the "two tall women" episode since Middle East reporter Kate Seelye is willowy enough to have played center on her college basketball team at Amherst, and Africa correspondent Jessie Deeter could easily have played forward, though she prefers competitive show jumping when she's not interviewing rebel fighters in the bush.
Having finished this week's episode just before deadline, we immediately plunged into editing a breaking story about Iran's nuclear program. Do the Iranians only want to produce nuclear power or do they intend to produce nuclear weapons? Reporter Paul Kenyon, who also works for the BBC, went to Iran with U.N. weapons inspectors and ended up having much of his videotape confiscated by Iranian officials. But he managed to get the best footage out, which you will see May 24.
While we are forging ahead with our TV reports, our Web team has been busy re-designing our site to make it even more visual, timely and action-packed. We hope you like it. You may have noticed that we are now producing video reports exclusively for the Web, including investigative reporter Mark Schapiro's current story about nuclear smuggling, "The Double Life of Asher Karni." Mark's investigation will continue to play out on this Web site as the U.S. government pursues the man who calls himself "the Guru," Humayun Khan, a Pakistani businessman who the Commerce Department accuses of conspiring to import nuclear technology from the United States.
With all the frantic activity here, it was reassuring on April 27 to receive the Edward R. Murrow Award for best TV documentary on international affairs from the Overseas Press Club in New York. The judges honored all three of our 2004 episodes, noting our commitment to coverage of overlooked international stories from all corners of the globe. The citation reads: "Frontline World includes an account of a journalist's brutal beating death in Iran; a shocking portrayal of kidnapped brides in Kyrgyzstan and the cynical exploitation of sex workers in India. Frontline World's powerful storytelling, enterprising reporting and disciplined editing combined to create a powerful example of foreign reporting at its best."
High praise, which we intend to live up to -- this week, next week and beyond.