Gordon Peterson, the award-winning broadcast journalist hailed as the “Dean of Anchors” by The Washington Post, brings four and a half decades of experience to coverage of news in the nation’s capital and around the world. He will speak at St. John’s Adult Forum on April 10 at 10 a.m. His work as a television news anchor, reporter, writer and producer has taken him across the United States and to foreign locations including Northern Ireland, Israel, South Africa, Nicaragua, El Salvador, France, Rome, Cambodia, and Kuwait.
For 25 years, Peterson served as moderator and executive producer of the weekly political roundtable program “Inside Washington,” which aired on PBS stations in major television markets including Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Topics included U.S. and state elections, the U.S. Supreme Court, employment, immigration, the economy, education, energy policy, health care, climate change, national security, and the continuing strife in the Middle East. The program’s regular panelists for the past decade included Colbert King, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Shields, Evan Thomas, Nina Totenberg, Margaret Carlson and Jeanne Cummings.
Peterson has won numerous awards including more than a dozen Emmys, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Journalism, and the Ted Yates Memorial Award. He is also the only local journalist to receive the National Press Foundation’s Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Previous winners include Tim Russert, Judy Woodruff and David Brinkley.
For 45 years, Peterson has been one of Washington’s most celebrated television news anchors. He was the anchor of ABC affiliate WJLA-TV’s 6pm news from November 2004 until December 2014, and prior to that, he anchored the 6pm and 11pm news broadcasts for 35 years at Washington’s CBS affiliate, WUSA-TV.
Peterson has covered every one of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1972, and many of the presidential primaries and caucuses, as well as countless presidential debates throughout the country.
Award-winning documentaries and series he has written and produced over the years have focused on the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; the impact of civil war on the civilian populations of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Northern Ireland; apartheid in South Africa; the struggles of Cambodian refugees fleeing the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot; and the 50th anniversaries of D-Day and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
For his award-winning “Children of Belfast,” a five-part documentary that aired in 1979, Peterson interviewed the youngest and most vulnerable Protestant and Catholic generations during the height of the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Two decades later, Peterson returned to Northern Ireland to examine the impact of the Good Friday agreement, interviewing many of the same people and their children. That 1999 series, “Lessons of Peace,” garnered three Emmy Awards.
Another of Peterson’s Emmy award-winning series, “Triana, Alabama: Bad Case of the DDT’s,” chronicled the health problems of members of a small, predominantly African American community who had been exposed to DDT leached into their drinking water from a local chemical plant in the mid-1980s.
In 2014, he received another Emmy Award for his reporting on the election of Pope Francis.
A member of the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame, Peterson is a past recipient of the prestigious Ted Yates Memorial Award as an “Outstanding Journalist of Exceptional Merit,” an honor given only by unanimous vote of the board of directors of the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In 2013, Peterson was part of the WJLA/NewsChannel 8/Politico team honored with the Annenberg School’s prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Journalism for its reporting on the 2012 election.
A former U.S. Marine Officer, Peterson has often reported on problems and challenges facing military veterans. He is the recipient of the Veterans Administration Involvement Award and has been the guest of honor at the Marine Corps War Memorial Sunset Parade.
Peterson also received the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps Special Service Award for outstanding service in preparation of a military justice training video used to train future generations of Airmen on the intricacies of the Air Force’s disciplinary system.
Peterson is the former president of the Washington-Baltimore chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (now SAG-AFTRA), which includes members from Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Prior coming to Washington in 1969, Peterson covered news and sports for then CBS-owned WEEI Radio in Boston, and for CBS Radio. He began his broadcasting career as news director at WNEB Radio, the CBS affiliate in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and attended Georgetown University.
The Adult Forum is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required to attend. Valet parking is available. Call the Parish House office at (202) 347-8766 with questions.