Farnaz Fassihi

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Farnaz Fassihi (Persian: فرناز فصیحی‎) is an award-winning Iranian-American journalist. She is a Senior Writer for The Wall Street Journal based in New York. She is a 2018 recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of her "distinguished contribution" to America's society.

After 14 years covering wars and uprisings in the Middle East, Fassihi is focused on writing about diplomacy and the United Nations.[1] Fassihi is the author of Waiting for An Ordinary Day, a memoir of her four years covering the Iraq War and witnessing the unraveling of social life for Iraqi citizens. Fassihi won six national journalism awards for her coverage of the Iranian presidential elections in 2009. She is a 2015 Nieman fellow at Harvard University.[2]


Farnaz Fassihi was born in the United States to Iranian parents and grew up in Tehran and Portland, Oregon. She received an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her great-great grandmother is Taj Saltaneh Qajar, the most notable daughter of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled over Iran from 1848 to 1896. Taj Saltaneh was a writer, painter and feminist who co-founded Iran's first underground women's rights movement.


Fassihi is a Senior Writer based in New York. She served as a Senior Middle East correspondent based in Beirut, as Deputy Bureau Chief of Middle East and Africa supervising a team of reporters and shaping coverage from elections in Zimbabwe to war in Gaza and the uprisings of the Arab Spring. She covered the Iraq War as the Journal's Baghdad bureau chief from 2003–2006. She was dispatched to Afghanistan to cover the US-led invasion and has covered five wars, revolutions and uprisings throughout the region.

She was one of the lead reporters for the Journal's 2011 award-winning investigative project titled "Censorship Inc," a series of enterprise stories examining how western technology has enabled censorship in authoritarian countries.

Fassihi is widely known for penning a famous email in 2004 about the deteriorating situation in Iraq, which was hailed as the first unvarnished account of the war. The email went viral on the internet and was published in newspapers, websites and blogs around the world and became the subject of a Doonesbury cartoon.

Prior to joining the Wall Street Journal, Fassihi worked as an investigative reporter and roving foreign correspondent for The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ. She covered the Sept.11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the war in Afghanistan, Second Palestinian intifada and Iraq under Saddam Hussein for the Star-Ledger. She was also a reporter for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island covering local news. She led the paper's award-winning coverage of the crash of EgyptAir flight 990, traveling to Cairo to investigate the story.

She worked as a stringer for Western media organizations in Iran, including The New York Times.


  • Waiting for An Ordinary Day: the Unraveling of life in Iraq—Fassihi's four years covering the Iraq war and its impact on ordinary Iraqis. Reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Art section.
  • Women's Letters, America from the Revolutionary War to the Present—Fassihi's famous email from Iraq is included in this anthology of historical letters written by American women.
  • What Orwell Didn’t Know, Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics—Fassihi contributed an essay about the Iraq War and US administration's propaganda.
  • Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar: Stories of Food during Wartime by the World's Leading Correspondents—Fassihi contributed a chapter on sharing meals in Iran with students activists.


Her essays on the subject of journalism, conflict reporting and courage have been published by Harvard University's Nieman Reports magazine and Columbia Journalism Review.

She has been a guest speaker at numerous panels and journalism classes and a commentator for television and radio news shows on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, WNYC, PBS, Charlie Rose and National Public Radio.


Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2018)


  • Career Award for coverage of Middle East 2015
    • The Marie Colvin Front Page Award for Foreign Correspondence
  • For "Hearts, Minds and Blood: the battle for Iran": 2010
    • The Robert F. Kennedy Award for best international reporting in print
    • The Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award—for Best International Reporting in Print
    • Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism from University of Oregon
    • The Taylor Family Award for Fairness and Accuracy in print Journalism from Harvard University
    • Sigma Delta Chi Award for Best International Reporting from The Society of Professional Journalists
    • National Journalism Award for Best Reporting in Print from The Asian American Journalists Association
  • For "Censorship Inc.": 2011 (Team award)
    • Malcolm Forbes Award—The Overseas Press Club's Best International Business Reporting
    • Investigate Award—from Society of American Business Editors and Writers
  • For Iraq coverage: 2006
    • Henry Pringle Lecture Award—Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism for reporting with the most impact in shaping policy in Washington. Fassihi is the youngest person honored with the award.
  • For EgyptAir Flight 990 crash: 2000
    • The New England News Executive Award-First place for General News category
    • Livingston Award for young journalists—Finalist


  1. ^ "Farnaz Fassihi Wins Four Awards For Her Iran Coverage". Payvand. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  2. ^ http://nieman.harvard.edu/news/2014/04/nieman-foundation-announces-the-77th-class-of-nieman-fellows/

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