Going Overseas: Middle East and Beyond

BILL BLAKEMORE: When Peter showed up in Beirut, so soon after having left his early stint as a very young anchorman in the States, he clearly was on some kind of a mission. The Middle East brought him alive. He loved the story.

MIKE LEE: A lot of people thought Peter had a particular passion for the Middle East. I think that was because that was the first big assignment he landed, and he would have taken virtually anything to get out of America, where he was considered maybe a pretty boy. He wanted to get away from all that and prove himself.


PETER JENNINGS: I had, as my responsibility, for all those years everything east of the Mediterranean all the way to India... I had all of the Arab world, I had the territories that were occupied by Israel, I had Greece, and I had Cyprus and occasionally Turkey. I had Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan--I mean, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

BARRIE DUNSMORE: Being a foreign correspondent for an American television network in the 1960s was just about the best job in the world. We were able to travel to some of the most interesting places. We flew first-class for the most part, at a time when flying first-class really meant something. We stayed in the best hotels. We did, however, go to some of the worst places in the world, where it was dangerous to be, where wars and other such things were happening. But between the times when things were dangerous, things were very, very good.

We would often go off for weeks. We would go up and down the Nile on trips to find out about things in Egypt. We had time to read books about the places that we were visiting and working in. It was an entirely different world then from what we have today.

HILARY BROWN: Oh yes, Peter led a very glamorous life overseas. He certainly gave the perception of tossing off his stories between skin dives. He jetted around the world, and he knew everybody, and everybody came to know him. If you were in his wake, which I often was--I would be sent to a location where he had been-people would immediately ask, "Do you know Peter Jennings?"

RUPEN VOSGIMORUKIAN: Peter was a workaholic. Back from trips and he didn't want to lose a day. We would hop on another plane and go in another direction. Sometimes it was Europe, sometimes it was the Soviet Union, sometimes it was Greece. Borders had no limits for him. Easy stories were very easy to do; and when the story was difficult, I could see the satisfaction he had in achieving what he did.


"I had, as my responsibility…" Interview by Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, November 17, 1998.