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Ashleigh Banfield

From Academic Kids

Ashleigh Dennistoun Banfield, born December 29 1967 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a Canadian field journalist for MSNBC and NBC. Educated at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario, Banfield began her career in 1988 at CJBN in Kenora, Ontario, and at CKY in Winnipeg. From 1989 to 1992, she worked for CFRN in Edmonton, and from 1992 until 1995, at CICT in Calgary, where she won 2 Iris Awards. She then transferred to KDFW in Dallas, Texas, where she won an Emmy Award and a Texas Associated Press Award. In 2000 she was hired by MSNBC.

Banfield appears on television less frequently as of 2003, and is currently developing new programming for NBC news.

Known for her articulate, personable style, as much as her in-depth reporting, Banfield has risked her life several times while reporting in the Middle East and Central Asia, although she also reports on domestic and pop culture issues. Usually refusing to use a teleprompter, Banfield is known for always walking during her live broadcasts; across the landscapes, in and out of buildings, always carrying a yellow legal pad. Most of her interviews are unscripted. Another trademark is her square-rimmed eyeglasses, although she didn't start wearing them on the air until after she left Canada.

On September 11, 2001, Banfield was reporting from the streets of Manhattan, where she was nearly suffocated from the debris cloud from the collapsing World Trade Center. Banfield continued reporting, even as she rescued a NYPD officer, and with him, fled to safety into a streetside shop. After the initial reporting of the tragedy had ended, Banfield received a promotion, as MSNBC sent her around the world as the producer of a new program, A Region in Conflict.

A Region in Conflict was broadcasted mainly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, generally considered locations unfriendly to Westerners. To report day-to-day local stories in that area of the world, she sometimes used her Canadian citizenship to provide access where Americans might not be welcome. Lauded by the public for being unbiased, she would read viewer e-mails on-air, sometimes without reviewing them beforehand, again, to avoid bias.

During the conflict in Afghanistan, Banfield interviewed Taliban prisoners, and visited a hospital in Kabul. Later entries covered her travels from Kalalabad to Kabul, as well as other experiences in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, she interviewed a Father Gregory Rice, a Catholic priest in Pakistan, and an Iraqi woman aiding refugees. While in Afghanistan, Banfield darkened her blonde hair in order to be less obviously a foreigner.

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