CNN VJ Profiles
Parisa Khosravi: Senior Vice President and Managing Editor, International NewsgatheringBy Cliff Johnson
When Parisa Khosravi started at CNN in 1987, she says she needed the experience more than the money. "As an Iranian who left Iran just before the revolution, news was a big part of my life," she says. "I wanted to be right in the thick of breaking news events since high school." So after completing seven experience-rich internships during her Columbia College education in Chicago, Parisa received a bachelor's degree in journalism and immediately secured a job as a CNN Video Journalist (VJ). Fourteen years later she has an executive office, but says she rarely sees it.
From VJ, Parisa was promoted to Playback, where VJs cued and loaded tape directly for air. She loved having to think ahead of directors. She then was offered a position as an assistant assignment editor at the International Desk, where she gathered news from around the world and provided it to all CNN news entities. "I took pride in elementary work like fonting," she says, "the process of formatting scripts for a teleprompter." Within a year she became a full-fledged Assignment Editor, talking to reporters in the field and deciding what to cover. In her continued rapid ascent, Parisa was eventually promoted to Senior Editor, then Director of Coverage, Vice President and finally -- at least for now -- Senior Vice President and Managing Editor.
When asked about CNN's brand of news, Parisa offers up how many bureaus CNN has around the world that provide comprehensive coverage.
On occasion, Parisa performs field duties. In 1995, she secured an exclusive interview with Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Two years later, she produced CNN's live coverage of the 1997 Iranian elections from Tehran. Parisa has received many awards including a 1993 Golden CableACE for CNN's coverage of the Gulf War; a 1992 Peabody Award for CNN's coverage of the attempted coup d'état in the former Soviet Union. Shes also won awards for covering Somalia, Bosnia, the Moscow Uprising of 1994 and the 1996 crisis in Zaire and Rwanda.
"Opportunities can come at you from any level at any time," says Parisa. "You can knock on anybody's door." She believes that expectations are beneficial, but stresses working on the basics. "Pay your dues; you don't realize what you're learning. I can now anticipate what will happen in the newsroom because of what I learned in the beginning. Don't be unrealistic, but you can go to the International Desk and ask to observe. You can be writing your own practice versions of scripts all along and find someone to look at them."
She also believes that creativity makes the difference. "Once I had to get our equipment and people from Cyprus to Somalia to Mogadishu, but I couldn't find any flights. I asked an airline if they'd make a stop," she says, grinning. "They laughed, then asked how much! I spent 26 hours straight in my seat making contingency plans in case it all didn't work out. Finally our people boarded the plane. Ironically, the airline was packed full of journalists from London already on their way to cover the same story," she says, grinning even wider.
Parisa says pursuing a journalism career in the United States had its difficulties in the beginning. "English was my second language. Some of my journalism teachers told me that journalism was such a tough field. If I had listened, I wouldn't be here now." Today Parisa still happily abandons her office on a regular basis in favor of the newsroom. As Senior Vice President of CNN, however, the duties she learned as a VJ continue to serve her as she gathers and delivers news for CNN's newest formats, from television to the Internet.
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