Mike Lee is a London-based correspondent for ABC News. He contributes reports from around the globe for "World News with Charles Gibson," "Nightline," and other ABC News broadcasts and platforms.
Lee's work includes journeys throughout Africa, Latin America, Asia, Australia and the Pacific for his "Road to Anywhere" reports on "World News." On the "Road to Anywhere," Lee sets out to the far-flung corners of the world, with a small DV camera, a laptop computer, a satellite phone, and a mandate to look for unusual stories that show the audience the rich diversity of life in cultures and societies often overlooked in day-to-day news coverage.
Recently reporting from Africa, Lee covered the story of Jessie Stone, an American doctor who gave up a medical career in order to become an "extreme sports kayaker" on the dangerous white rapids of the Nile River in Uganda. In a strange twist to the story, when Stone saw children suffering from malaria, her instincts to save lives came rushing back and she added malaria education work to her unusual lifestyle far from home.
Also in Africa, Lee has journeyed by boat up the Niger River to the legendary "forbidden city" of Timbuktu. Other African "Road to Anywhere" stories include "Sweat Equity," a program in which poor, single mothers qualify for home loans by helping to construct a house; and "Memory Boxes," the story of how young children are given little tin boxes to hold photos and other evidence of parents who are dying of AIDS, parents they are too young to remember.
Lee has also filmed African stories about the controversial impact of U.S. funded Christian evangelical groups' AIDS prevention education where they teach against the use of condoms. He also found a young man whose right leg was paralyzed at birth by polio, a disease that has lingered in Africa long after being wiped out in America. But this disabled man has trained himself to perform amazing acrobatics in order to earn a living. "Africa, and other continents," says Lee, "are incredibly rich in stories that we Americans can relate to. We just have to find them, and that's my mission on the 'Road to Anywhere.'"
And "anywhere" is what he means. He went to the remote island of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, where young men fling themselves from 100-foot wooden towers, stopped inches from the ground by the long trees vines wrapped around their ankles. They are the original "bungee jumpers." In New Delhi, Lee told the story of a training school for back office call center workers, where they study angry scenes in movies starring Jack Nicholson, in order to prepare themselves for rude American callers. In Peru, he rode a horse into the mountains to interview the Shamans who still practice spiritual medicine by spitting a mixture of alcohol and tobacco on their patients.
Lee also maintains an active role in breaking news coverage. He was the first ABC News correspondent into northern Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was part of the ABC News team that received a Peabody award for coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath.
Lee moved to London in 1977, where he covered the ongoing story of the British-IRA conflict. His first assignment as a foreign correspondent was his two-year marathon coverage of the civil war in Beirut, for which he received the Overseas Press Club Award. Over the years, Lee has maintained his interest in Middle Eastern affairs, reporting from the scene of major stories such as the Iranian Revolution, the terrorist bombing of the American soldiers in Lebanon, the Camp David peace process, the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war, and the 1991 Gulf War.
In Europe, Lee has reported on just about every major story of the past 25 years: The night the Berlin Wall came down, he sampled public opinion in the German countryside when reporting live from an outlying border post for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." Lee reported on the democratic changes in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. He covered the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu during his last weeks in power, then returned to Bucharest during the December revolution to report on abortion laws, abandoned children with AIDS, environmental health hazards, and the Romanian elections.
During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Lee spent much time in Kosovo. His coverage included the plight of Kosovo refugees. For "Nightline," he reported on the "Diary of Teuta Spahiu," the story of a young Albanian woman who kept a secret diary as she and her family endured many hardships.
Lee was born in Dallas. He studied science and drama at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, as well as political science and creative writing at the University of Texas, Austin. His broadcasting career began in 1965 at KHFI-TV, Austin, followed by two years at WFAA in Dallas (1966-68). In 1968, Lee joined KPIX-TV, San Francisco. In 1975, he became a reporter for the CBS Television Network in New York, and within months was appointed as the CBS News Middle East Correspondent. Lee joined ABC News in May 1980.
He currently lives in London with his wife Christine, and daughters Jennifer and Mariana. He has two older children who live in San Francisco, son Aaron and daughter Kate.