FRONTLINE Founder Receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town

December 17, 2014
by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

FRONTLINE founder David Fanning graduating from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1969, and receiving his honorary doctorate in 2014.

When David Fanning was growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, television was banned for being too subversive, and the government was cracking down on the independent press.

But that didn’t stop Fanning from pursuing investigative journalism and filmmaking — and, ultimately, dedicating his life to merging the two.

On Dec. 18, Fanning — who founded FRONTLINE in 1983 and has served as its executive producer ever since — will be honored in his home country for his extraordinary contribution to investigative journalism.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) will present an honorary doctorate to Fanning, who earned his undergraduate degree at the school and served as editor of the university’s student newspaper.

“This is an extraordinary honor,” Fanning says. “I look back at the decisions I made as a young person in those years at UCT in the ’60s, the people who influenced me, and how the crucible of those dramatic times shaped me, and I am deeply grateful. It all counted, and I am amazed to be back here among old friends. What a privilege.”

In a statement announcing this year’s honorary doctorate recipients, UCT described Fanning as “one of the most distinguished international media figures to have emerged from UCT,” and hailed FRONTLINE for its “excellence, independence, and integrity.”

Under Fanning’s leadership, FRONTLINE has become the longest-running investigative documentary series on television. FRONTLINE has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including 69 Emmy Awards and 16 Peabody Awards. Fanning was honored with an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

Check back for video from the UCT ceremony.

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