Skip to main content

Barry Petersen

Barry Petersen (BSJ70, MSJ72) is a member of the inaugural class of the Medill Hall of Achievement in 1997.

CBS News calls Barry Petersen one of their most experienced correspondents. He is the author of “Jan’s Story,” a 2010 critically acclaimed book that shares Peterson’s journey into life as a caregiver to his wife, Jan, diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease at 55.

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 war reporting includes being embedded 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. In 2010, Barry was recognized with another Emmy award for coverage of the global recession in China.

His Sunday Morning story about Jan and Alzheimer's Disease earned a national 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award and was nominated for a national 2011 Emmy award.
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).
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.

Petersen 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.

In 2009, the Asian American Journalist Association gave him its National Journalism Award for his body of reporting from Asia, praising his “extraordinary writing.”

Top