Tom Fenton has been CBS News' Senior European Correspondent since 1979. He has lived up to that title like few other broadcast journalists, having been based in CBS News bureaus in London since 1996, Moscow (1994-96), a previous stint in London (1979-94), Paris (1977-79), Tel Aviv (1973-77) and Rome (1970-73).
For the past three decades, Fenton has covered most of the major events in Europe, the Middle East and the countries of the former Soviet Union, often spotting trends that make future headlines. "My goal," he says, "is staying ahead of the curve. I look for the developments that may affect Americans' lives or draw the United States into future conflicts."
Fenton was the first American television correspondent to report the growing unrest in Eastern Germany, almost a decade before the Berlin Wall came down, and throughout the 1980s, he chronicled the crumbling of communism and the struggle for democracy throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Fenton was in Moscow for the August 1991 coup, and the lowering of the Red Flag over the Kremlin that December. In the mid-1990s, he spent two years in Moscow reporting on Russia's tightrope transition to capitalism and the traumatic war in Chechnya.
Fenton was also the first American television correspondent to report the tensions in Iran that led to the overthrow of the Shah, and the first to interview Ayatollah Khomeini, whom the reporter calls "one of the toughest characters I have ever met." Fenton returned to Tehran during the frustrating months that followed the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy. A decade later, he was there to report Khomeini's bizarre funeral. More recently, he has reported signs that the Islamic Republic may be about to crumble.
Fenton initially distinguished himself as a War Correspondent, covering the India-Pakistan War in 1971, the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, the war in Cyprus of 1974, the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, he reported from Israel during the Scud missile attacks and has periodically returned to Israel and the Persian Gulf for subsequent crises. Fenton reported the early days of the war in the formerYugoslavia and the start of the massacres in Central Africa.
His first story for CBS News was a world exclusive: the first interviews with a planeload of Americans released from a Middle East hijacking. Since then, he has covered most of the subsequent hijackings and hostage releases.
But it hasn't been all wars and revolutions for Fenton. He has reported on medicine, politics, culture and economic and social trends, including the ups and downs of the British Royal family over the years. Fenton was a key member of the CBS News team reporting on the death and funeral of Princess Diana.
He joined CBS News in 1970 and was initially based in Rome.
Prior to that, Fenton was both a domestic and a foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun (1961-66), covering Europe and the Middle East. He cut his foreign correspondent's teeth on the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, followed by the 1968 Paris "Days of May," for which he received his first journalistic award, from the Overseas Press Club.
Fenton has received a total of eight Overseas Press Club awards and citations, an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Journalism Silver Baton Award and four Emmy Awards.
He was an officer in the United States Navy (1952-61), serving on destroyers in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. He was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when Castro arrived in 1953 and in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis.
Fenton was born in Baltimore, Md. He was graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1952 with B.A. in English. He and his wife, the former Simone France Marie Lopes-Curval, have two children.