Upside Down Under: Who is Roxana Saberi?…

Written by: Marvin Baker

I was watching the CBS Evening News recently and Roxana Saberi gave a report on the World Cup from Doha, Qatar. I don’t normally watch the CBS Evening News but that name and face rang a bell.It took a minute to recall who she is. If you don’t know or remember, she is from North Dakota and has quite a story.


Often times when people from North Dakota become famous, they’re athletes, actors, politicians or business executives. Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, is arguably the best journalist to come out of North Dakota since Eric Sevareid.
Ironically, she was born the year Sevareid, from Velva, retired from CBS, 1977. What are the odds of two people from our rural state both winding up as reporters for the CBS network?


Saberi’s story starts in Fargo where she graduated from Fargo North High School in 1994. She was involved in piano and soccer and later played college soccer for Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. She was inducted into the Fargo North High School Hall of Fame in 2007.


Saberi graduated from Concordia in 1997 with degrees in communications and French. But that was only the beginning of her impressive educational resume.


She later earned a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University in Illinois. Following that, she received a second master’s in International Relations from Cambridge University in England, where she also played on the Cambridge soccer team.


Perhaps more importantly, at least to people in Fargo and the rest of North Dakota, Saberi was crowned Miss North Dakota 1997 and became one of the 10 semifinalists in the Miss America pageant. At the conclusion of that event, she was presented with the Scholar Award.


Saberi’s journalistic repertoire is incredible. At 45 years old, she has worked for some of the most influential news agencies on the face of the earth, and is now employed by CBS. She got her start in Fargo in 2000 as a reporter for KVLY-TV, channel 11.


In 2003 she moved to Iran to work for the U.S. based Feature Story News. During the three years she had press credentials at FSN, she sent reports to South African News, Deutche Welle (German), Vatican Radio, Radio New Zealand, Australian Independent Radio News and PBS.


In 2006, her credentials were revoked and the Iranian government shut down the FSN bureau. But, she had a second press credential and continued doing reports for the BBC. Later that same year, her British press credential was revoked.
In 2009 she was arrested in Iran on espionage charges and was later sentenced to eight years in prison. Upon appeal, her sentence was reduced to a lesser charge of possession of classified material and given a suspended sentence. She denied both allegations.


Because her father is Iranian and her mother Japanese, Saberi has dual U.S./Iranian citizenship but it didn’t help her cause because the Iranian government doesn’t recognize dual citizenship and her case proceeded to court.
Following her release later in 2009, she wrote a book about her experience of being imprisoned, interrogated and even tortured to make a false confession of espionage. “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran” is the title of the book. It is available on Amazon Kindle, audiobook and hard cover.


In 2013 her professional career made another leap after she was hired by Al Jazeera as a U.S. correspondent and producer. Al Jazeera’s headquarters are located in Doha. In 2016, Al Jazeera America went off the air and in 2018, Saberi became a CBS correspondent working out of its London bureau. She was reporting from Afghanistan when the U.S. military pulled out of the country last year in August.


Saberi has received numerous awards for her work in journalism since she began her professional career at FSN.
If you watch CBS News, keep an eye out for Saberi’s reports. She’s done extremely well as a TV journalist and to think it all started at Fargo North High School.

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