few names in broadcast journalism are as recognizable as Peter Jennings.
His father, Charles, was the most prominent radio announcer for
the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Thus, it seems perhaps
predictable that Peter Jennings would have his own successful career
in the news industry.
was ten years old when he received his first anchor job for Peter's
Program, a Saturday morning radio show which showcased young talent.
As a student, he exhibited little interest in formal education.
However, his interests and talent in the area of news would demonstrate
his capacity and willingness to learn. He began his professional career
as a disc jockey and news reporter for a small radio station in Brockville,
Ontario, and like many reporters who achieve major success his opportunity
to make a name for himself came with breaking news. In this case it was
the story of a train wreck he covered for the CBC that brought attention.
But the story got him a job
with CTV, Canada's first private TV network, rather than with the
public broadcaster. On CTV he was noticed by ABC News' Elmer Lower,
who recognized Jennings' good looks and charm as elements that would
sell to the American public. Shortly after, in 1964, Jennings joined
ABC as an anchor for a 15-minute evening news segment.
year later, in an unprecedented rise to the top, Jennings, at 27,
became the youngest ABC Evening News anchor. His competition
at the time--Walter Cronkite on CBS, the team of Chet Huntley and
David Brinkley on NBC--stood as the most credible anchors of their
time. In this competitive environment, Jennings' was unable to break
through and establish a strong share for ABC News. In 1968, he left
the anchor desk and was sent to Rome to become a foreign correspondent
and sharpen his reporting skills. Jennings was credited with establishing
the first American television news bureau in the Middle East and
served for seven years as ABC News Bureau Chief in Beirut, Lebanon.
After building a stong reputation for world-class reporting, Jennings
was put back in an anchor position for A.M. America, the
predecessor for Good Morning America, where he delivered
five-minute newscasts from Washington.
The experience and contacts in the Middle East paid off for Jennings.
He established a reputation as Anwar Sadat's favorite correspondent
after completing a documentary on the Egyptian president and in
1977, when Egypt and Israel were about to make peace, Jennings was
called to the scene. In 1978 he was the first U.S. reporter to interview
the Ayatollah Khomeini, then in exile in Paris. When the Ayatollah
came to power in Iran, Jennings was the first reporter to be granted
an interview and accompanied the Ayatollah on the plane back to
after, on 10 July 1978, the first ABC World News Tonight aired.
There Jennings was to become a star. His breadth of experience in
national and international reporting served him well while he was
a reporter for World News Tonight, and in 1983 he was named lead
the late 1980s, Jennings anchored several highly acclaimed programs
including a live series called Capital to Capital, which
broadcast communications between Soviet officials and members of
the American Congress. News specials on political volatility in
China, Iran, and the former Soviet Union also won praise. His contributions
include a live, via-satellite, town hall meeting between American
citizens and Soviet leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.
This show, with its question and answer format, gave Americans unprecedented
exposure to the Soviet leaders.
Jennings' political reports have won him the most praise at World
News Tonight, they do not stand alone. Jennings also anchors
Peter Jennnings Reporting. These one-hour, prime-time specials
address important issues facing the nation and the world. He has
explored issues ranging from abortion, gun-control, and rape to
funding for the arts and Ross Perot's presidential campaign. Jennings'
most recent accomplishments include a series of news reports for
children. In 1994 he served as moderator of a special question and
answer broadcast from the White House in which American children
questioned President Clinton about issues important to their lives.
his work, Jennings won several Emmy and Overseas Press Club
Awards, and the prestigious Alfred I duPont Columbia University
Award for journalism. In 1989, a Times Mirror poll found
Jennings to be the most believable source of news. Jennings was
also named "best anchor" by the Washington Journalism Review
in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992.
died of lung cancer on August 7, 2005.
Photo courtesy of ABC
(CHARLES) JENNINGS. Born in Toronto, Ontrario, Canada, 29 July
1938. Attended Trinity College School and Carleton University, Ontario,
and Rider College in New Jersey. Married: 1) Valerie Godsoe (divorced),
2) Annie Malouf (divorced), 3) Kati Marton, 1979 (divorced, 1994);
children: Elizabeth and Christopher. Began career in Canadian radio
and television as news correspondent; parliamentary correspondent
and network co-anchor, independent Canadian Television Channel (CTV);
New York correspondent, ABC television, 1964; nightly news anchor,
1965-68; overseas assignment, 1968-74; Washington correspondent,
news anchor, AM America, 1975-76; chief foreign correspondent,
1977; foreign desk anchor, World News Tonight, 1978; anchor,
senior editor, ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings,
since 1983. Named Best Anchor in US Washington Journalism Review,
1988, 1989, 1990, 1992. Member, International Radio and Television
Society. Recipient: duPont Columbia Award; several Emmy Awards;
several Overseas Press Club Awards. Died in New York City on August 7, 2005 at the age of 67.
World News Tonight (co-anchor)
1965-68 World News Tonight (anchor)
1975-76 AM America (news anchor)
1978-2005 ABC World News Tonight
With Peter Jennings
1988 Drugs: A Plague Upon the Land
1988 Why This Plague?
1989 AIDS Quarterly
1992 Men, Sex and Rape
1993 President Clinton: Answering Children's Questions
1994 ABC Viewpoint: Whitewater: Underplayed? Overplayed?
Atkins, Norman. "The A-B-Cs of Peter Jennings." (interview), Rolling
Stone (New York), 4 May 1989.
Jaw, U.S.A.? Never! Jamais!." Maclean's (Toronto, Ontario,
Canada), 25 June 1990.
"ABC News' Peter Jennings." (cover story, interview), Broadcasting
& Cable (Washington, D.C.), 27 September 1993.
Attanasio, Paul. "Anchors Away: Good Evening, Dan, Tom and Peter.
Now Buzz Off." New Republic (Washington, D.C.), 23 April
Richard. "Broadcast Blues." Film Comment (New York), March-April
Thomas, editor. Television News Anchors: An Anthology of Profiles
of the Major Figures and Issues in United States Network Reporting.
Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland, 1993.
Robert, and Gerald Jay Goldberg. Anchors: Brokaw, Jennings, Rather,
and the Evening News. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol, 1990.
Leonard. Beating the Odds. New York: Scribners, 1991
Elizabeth. "Peter Jennings Gets No Self-Respect." Esquire
(New York), September 1989.
Ryan P. "Voted Most Trusted of the Anchormen." Saturday Evening
Post (Indianapolis, Indiana), November 1988.
Mike. "Divided Loyalties: Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace in No-man's-land."
Quill (Chicago, Illinois), Februrary 1989.
also Anchor; News,