Preston Mendenhall has covered every significant overseas news event over the last decade, reporting from Russia and the Soviet successor states, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Zimbabwe, the Persian Gulf, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Mendenhall has reported extensively on the conflict. During the war to oust Saddam Hussein, Mendenhall was based in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. He was the first American journalist to reach both Kirkuk, the ethnically divided northern Iraqi city, and also Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown.
In neighboring Iran, Mendenhall has led NBC’s coverage of the region since 2003, from the Bam earthquake to the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2005.
Mendenhall has filed reports for more than a decade from Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 2004, he covered the death and funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
In Russia, where Mendenhall has been based since 2003, he has covered terror acts in Moscow and southern Russia, the Kremlin’s clampdown on civil liberties and Russian business and industry. He hosted a 30-minute program on the Russian economy for CNBC, called “Awakening Giants.”
Using a unique blend of skills, Mendenhall is considered a pioneering solo journalist, or “sojo,” who frequently films, edits and writes his own material for television, online and print media.
Prior to his posting at NBC News Moscow, Mendenhall was MSNBC.com’s International Correspondent & Editor based in London from 1998 to 2003.
In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mendenhall covered the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, reporting from Kandahar and Islamabad.
Prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mendenhall reported extensively from Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, spending three weeks traversing the country alone just months before the terrorist strikes against the United States. Footage shot by Mendenhall was featured in an Emmy-award-winning report on Dateline NBC.
Mendenhall covered the war in Kosovo and NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. At the height of the NATO bombing, Serb authorities expelled him from Belgrade. In 2002, Mendenhall followed up his coverage of the conflicts in former Yugoslavia with a groundbreaking undercover investigation into the trafficking and forced prostitution of women in the Balkans.
Mendenhall has reported for more than a decade on the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as on Albania, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. Before joining MSNBC.com in 1998, Mendenhall spent five years as the Moscow producer for NBC News, where he covered the 1993 coup attempt, the Yeltsin government and the first war in Chechnya. For NBC News, Mendenhall also covered the 1992-1995 Bosnian war during the height of the siege of Sarajevo.
Mendenhall was a recipient of the 2000 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast, given to NBC News for its coverage of the NATO bombing campaign in Belgrade and Kosovo. Mendenhall has given the Irving Lecture, established by the author John Irving, at his alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy, and has spoken at the Aspen Institute about U.S. policy toward Iran. Mendenhall was awarded a Knight Fellowship to the Salzburg Seminar in Salzburg, Austria. His work in Pakistan was recognized by the South Asian Journalists Association.
Mendenhall is an honors graduate of Cornell University and Phillips Exeter Academy. His university-level education included studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Leningrad Polytechnic University in the then Soviet Union. Mendenhall is fluent in French and Russian.