Legendary Reporter for CBS News
CBS News calls Barry Petersen one of their most experienced correspondents. In a career spanning more than three decades with CBS News, he has reported on everything from wars and natural disasters to Paris fashions and the return of American Jazz to Shanghai, China. His stories have been datelined from virtually every continent. He has interviewed Hollywood stars including Jimmy Stewart, Bill Cosby, Pierce Brosnan and Sir Anthony Hopkins, as well as the leaders of the Bosnian war who were later tried as war criminals. He also met the President of the South Seas nation of Kiribati, who showed up for the interview barefooted. His war reporting includes being imbedded with US soldiers in Iraq and the US military’s Operation Restore Hope aimed at easing famine in Somalia.
He rode out on a tank in a convoy of Soviet troops retreating from Afghanistan and one of his reports was later featured in the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War.” His coverage of the Bosnian war and the courage of men, women and children under fire in Sarajevo earned him one of his Emmy Awards for “The Spirit of Sarajevo” on CBS Sunday Morning. He was among the first reporters on the scene in Thailand after the Asian Tsunami in 2005, and later returned to report on the progress of recovery in both Thailand and Indonesia. While working as the Moscow Bureau Chief and Correspondent, he covered Mikhail Gorbachev’s summit trips to Cuba, Malta, East Berlin, Washington, DC, and China, as well as the visit to the then-Soviet Union by President Ronald Reagan. He was in Parliament the night in 1990 when Lithuania declared independence, the first Soviet Republic to break away in what began the unraveling of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. When based in San Francisco, he did the first network news story on a then-new disease, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
In his new book, Jan’s Story, you will meet an amazing, lively and vivacious woman who loved her husband and her life, and who globe-trotted from country to country with aplomb. His wife Jan laughed easily and thought life was about adventure and relished every new one that came along as she and Barry moved from postings in San Francisco to Tokyo to Moscow to London and back to Japan and China. He chronicles how much life would change with the 2005 diagnosis of her Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, when Jan was only 55.
Before joining CBS News in 1978, he worked as a reporter for several major American newspapers including the Miami Herald, the Milwaukee Journal, the Omaha World-Herald and as a stringer for TIME Magazine. He also worked as a reporter and anchor for WCCO-TV, the CBS owned station in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, and for WITI-TV in Milwaukee, WI. He has been honored numerous times for his writing and reporting, and shared both an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and a George Foster Peabody Award as part of CBS Radio’s coverage of the democracy uprising at Tiananmen Square. In 1990, he was the Josephine B. and Newton N. Minow visiting professor in communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In 2009, the Asian American Journalist Association gave him its National Journalism Award for his body of reporting from Asia, praising his “extraordinary writing.” He moved back to the United States in the fall of 2009, after working overseas for 24 years having lived in Tokyo, Moscow, London, and Beijing. He now lives in Denver, CO, and reports primarily for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. The father of two daughters, he has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.