Steve Kroft biography
SynopsisSteve Kroft is an American journalist and a longtime correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes. As a young man, Kroft served in Vietnam and was assigned to escorting TV crews while they documented the front-lines. Inspired by their work, Kroft signed on with the paper Stars and Stripes. After the war, he worked for a local news station, studied journalism at Columbia, and eventually landed a job at CBS.
Journalist. Born August 22, 1945, in Kokomo, Indiana. Steve Kroft's father, Fred Kroft, was a metallurgist who worked for the Union Carbide Corporation, a prominent chemicals company. Kroft's father was also an enthusiastic and talented golfer who had starred on Purdue University's golf team, and the sport became Steve's childhood obsession. "I started playing when I was 12," he recalls. "My father was a very good golfer and he got me started early. My grandfather played too. It was just something that the Kroft family did."Kroft played on the golf team at Kokomo High School and, upon graduating in 1963, he enrolled at Syracuse University, where he also played the sport competitively. While at Syracuse, Kroft also developed a new passion—journalism. Kroft began studying the subject at the famed journalism department of Syracuse's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
VietnamAfter graduating with his bachelor's of science in 1967, Kroft was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Vietnam War. He was assigned to the information office of the 25th Infantry Division, where his tasks included escorting television crews while they documented the front-lines. While on duty, Kroft met many prominent journalists, including his 60 Minutes predecessor Morley Shafer. "I ran into Morley very briefly in Cu Chi in 1970," Kroft later recalled. "He does not remember, but his mere presence scared the daylights out of all the brass. I'm sure they must have had something to hide." While still on active duty, Kroft began working as a correspondent and photographer for Stars and Stripes, the independent newspaper operating within the Defense Department. Kroft gained a lot of field experience at Stars and Stripes, including a chance to cover the Vietnam War, an event which he referred to as "the biggest story of my generation."
After leaving the army in 1971, Kroft returned to Syracuse, New York, where he worked for local television news station WSYR-TV. After several years in that job, Kroft decided to return to school for further journalism training. He attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and graduated with a master's degree in 1975. "I knew I wanted to become a network correspondent eventually," he later remembered, "and thought a year in New York at Columbia would improve my credentials if, and when, the opportunity presented itself." After graduating from Columbia, Kroft moved to Florida, where he worked as a reporter for two prominent local news channels: Miami's WPLG-TV and Jacksonville's WJXT-TV.
Then in 1980, Kroft landed his first job at a major American television network, working for the northeast news bureau at CBS in New York. After only a year with CBS, Kroft was named a correspondent and moved to the Dallas bureau, where he worked for two years. Three years later, Kroft won a promotion as foreign correspondent for the network's London bureau. There he immediately rose to prominence within the journalism world, winning an Emmy Award for his coverage of the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Other prominent news stories Kroft covered during this period include the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Beirut; the Lebanese Civil War; and the sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. In 1987, Kroft shifted roles once again to work alongside Meredith Vieira on the newsmagazine series West 57th.
In 1989, after two years on West 57th, Kroft landed the dream job he still holds: correspondent on the popular CBS News show 60 Minutes. As a 60 Minutes mainstay for over 20 years, Kroft has investigated and chronicled some of the most important events of recent history, and conducted revealing and in-depth interviews with numerous world leaders. In 1990, Kroft became the first American journalist granted significant access to the contaminated Chernobyl nuclear power complex in Ukraine. Two years later, he conducted an exclusive interview with then-governor and presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary; the interview is now regarded as one the defining moments of the 1992 presidential election.
Kroft's shocking 1996 report, "The Worst Nightmare," was the first to chronicle the smuggling of nuclear materials out of the former Soviet Union by the Russian mafia. Other iconic Kroft stories include a 1992 investigation of "friendly fire" in the Gulf War, a 1994 story about the Cuban government's quarantining of people with the AIDS virus, and a 1998 profile of Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov. In 2008, Kroft conducted the first post-election interview with President-Elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
Over the past several decades, Steve Kroft has emerged as one of the most prominent TV journalists of our time. His work has won five Peabody Awards, two duPont Awards, 10 Emmy Awards (including the Lifetime Achievement Emmy) and the 2010 Paul White Award, one of the most prestigious media honors.
Over more than 40 years as a journalist, Steve Kroft has witnessed profound changes in the journalism industry, as electronic media has gradually replaced print as the primary means of communicating information. In recent years, Kroft has turned to addressing these changes, what he calls "the challenges journalism faces in this very difficult economic climate, and what changing technologies mean for the future of our profession." Asked in a recent interview how he feels about the future of his ever-changing industry, Kroft answered, "Generally, optimistic.
Journalism is too important to disappear, but someone is going to have figure out new and effective ways to pay for it as new technologies continue to evolve."
Kroft is married to journalist and writer Jennet Conant and the couple has one son, John Conant Kroft. The family resides in New York.