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Barry  Petersen

Barry Petersen

CBS Correspondent & Author

Barry Petersen

CBS Correspondent & Author


In a career spanning more than three decades with CBS News, Barry Petersen 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.

Petersen 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 barefoot.

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. Petersen’s 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, he was recognized with another Emmy Award for coverage of the global recession in China.

His Sunday Morning story about his wife Jan and Alzheimer’s disease earned a national 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award and was nominated for a national 2011 Emmy Award. He later authored Jan’s Story: A Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s in 2010. Chronicling his transition from companion to caregiver, Petersen beautifully shares his and Jan’s story in a work that promises to inspire thousands of families undergoing the same pain.

Petersen 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, Petersen did the first network news story on a then-new disease, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Before joining CBS News in 1978, Petersen worked as a reporter for several major American newspapers including The Miami Herald, The Milwaukee Journal, and The Omaha World-Herald, and as a stringer for Time. He also worked as a reporter and anchor for WCCO-TV, the CBS-owned station in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and for WITI-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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, Petersen was the Josephine B. and Newton N. Minow visiting professor in communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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

Barry Petersen 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, Colorado, and reports primarily for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.

Petersen has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Speech Topics

Jan’s Story: A Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s

Imagine hearing these words: “She has Alzheimer’s.” Now imagine that “she” is vibrant, active, loving, healthy... and just 55. Acclaimed CBS News reporter Barry Petersen writes about hearing the unimaginable: what it meant, what it still means, and what he did--and didn't do--upon hearing that devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s. “Jan's Story” is a full, rich presentation of two people for whom “forever” suddenly and terrifyingly had an expiration date.

• A Conversation with Barry Petersen