Newsroom

Sept. 27, 2007

Award-winning veteran journalist Frank Sesno
to give the 2007 Sammons Media Ethics Lecture


Frank Sesno
Hear his interview on KERA's 'Think' program on Oct. 8.

DALLAS (SMU) – Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, a veteran of CNN and currently a special correspondent and documentary producer for the network, will give the eighth annual Rosine Smith Sammons Lecture in Media Ethics at SMU. The lecture is at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in Caruth Auditorium, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus.

The event is free; however, tickets are required and are available through the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787. The Sammons Lecture Series is presented by the Division of Journalism at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

Widely respected from the newsroom to the classroom, Sesno has been chronicling world events as a journalist for more than 25 years. He serves as a professor of media and public affairs at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., and he is a special correspondent for CNN where he makes documentaries and works on special projects for the network.

Sesno’s most recent documentary was a profile of controversial Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The program, Rumsfeld: Man of War, aired in October 2006 as part of CNN’s award-winning documentary series CNN Presents. His previous CNN documentary, We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis,examined America’s unhealthy reliance on oil.

From 2004-05, Sesno produced and hosted a series of one-hour public television specials, Sesno Reports, focusing on key issues confronting the country. Topics ranged from the war in Iraq to cancer research, from the problem of underage drinking to immigration. In 2003 he hosted “worldtalk, an Emmy Award-winning globally-focused public affairs series on WETA in Washington, and produced “Avoiding Armageddon,” a four-part, eight-hour PBS documentary that aired in April of that year about weapons of mass destruction. In 2002, Sesno reported and hosted a two-hour documentary for The History Channel on the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Prior to joining the faculty at GW, Sesno served as a professor of public policy and communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As part of this academic appointment, he also served as a senior fellow for the University’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, where he moderated a six-part series of Critical Conversations between key public and private sector leaders involved in homeland security.

His work on media and homeland security took him across the country, engaging public officials and citizens in a series of provocative discussions. These town hall meetings, “Homeland Security from the Citizen’s Perspective were conducted in conjunction with the Council on Excellence in Government, and contributed to a landmark report published by the Council. Sesno also served as Media Subject Matter Expert for a major terrorism tabletop exercise called TOPOFF 2 in 2003.

From 1996 through 2001 Sesno served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief and senior vice president for CNN. He supervised the network’s largest newsgathering team and oversaw the bureau’s operations and its editorial direction. Prior to being named Washington bureau chief, Sesno served as White House correspondent, anchor and talk show host.

Sesno has anchored and reported many major international news events, including presidential and economic summits, Middle East Peace talks, and the 50th anniversary of D-Day from Normandy. He has interviewed four American presidents – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan – as well as such diverse personalities as Hillary Rodham Clinton; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; Nelson Mandela; Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; Israeli Prime Ministers Sharon, Netanyahu, and Rabin; King Hussein of Jordan; and Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Sesno originally joined CNN in 1984 from AP Radio where he was an overseas correspondent based in London and later a White House correspondent. Before joining AP Radio, Sesno was with the Voice of America. He started his broadcast career with WCFR Radio in Springfield, VT.

Sesno’s awards include a national Emmy Award and a regional Emmy Award, several CableAce and Cine Golden Eagle Awards and the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Spot News Reporting from Abroad in radio.

He serves on the advisory board of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the POSSE Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a former trustee of Middlebury College, and he is a former board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism awards.

The Rosine Smith Sammons Lecture Series in Media Ethics is funded by a generous endowment from the Rosine Foundation Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, at the recommendation of Mary Anne Sammons Cree of Dallas. The series is named in honor of her mother, Rosine Smith Sammons, who graduated from SMU in the 1920s with a degree in journalism. The endowment will provide permanent resources for the Meadows School of the Arts to present annual lectures focusing on media ethics.

The Division of Journalism, under Belo Distinguished Chair Tony Pederson, offers concentrations in all media – broadcast, print and Internet – through its convergence journalism program. With the help of a gift from The Belo Foundation, the Division has become one of the few journalism schools in the country to provide hands-on experience through a new digital newsroom, television studio and Web site.

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