Peter Zuckerman
Peter Edward Zuckerman

(1979-12-27) December 27, 1979 (age 41)
EducationReed College (BS)
OccupationJournalist, Author, Activist
EmployerThe Oregonian
Partner(s)Sam Adams

Peter Zuckerman (born December 27, 1979) is an American journalist and author who has focused his career in court reporting, investigative journalism, and adventure stories. He is also a leader of several prominent progressive political campaigns.

Early life and education

Zuckerman attended the Chadwick School in Los Angeles County, California, and graduated from Reed College with a degree in biology in 2003.[1] As a student at Reed, Zuckerman served on the editorial board of the Reed College Quest, a student-run newspaper. In March 2002 he wrote an opinion piece in The Oregonian ("The drug Olympics")[2] condemning competitive use of drugs like gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, at the school. He was the target of numerous threats within the Reed College community,[3] and he was both adversely criticized and also praised in letters to the Oregonian.[4][5]

Zuckerman interned for the Portland weekly Just Out while at Reed, delivering the paper and fact-checking telephone numbers.[6] He also interned for the Portland bureau of the Associated Press and The Springfield News. He went on to work as a journalist in Eastern Idaho.[7]



In 2006, Zuckerman was the lead writer of a controversial multi-part story, Scouts' Honor, in the Idaho Falls Post Register about the coverup of a multi-state child molestation case involving at least two dozen minors and the Boy Scouts of America in Idaho.[8] He was accused of having a bias against the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS Church because of his sexual orientation.[9][10]

For work on the series, Zuckerman received the 2006 Livingston Award and the 2007 C.B. Blethen Award, and the Post-Register won the Scripps Foundation's 2005 National Journalism Awards for distinguished service to the First Amendment.[11][12]

After the story was published, Zuckerman became the target of personal attacks on the basis of his sexual orientation.[10][13]

Zuckerman was profiled in a September 25, 2007, documentary, "In A Small Town," broadcast in the PBS series, Exposé: America's Investigative Reports.[14] The documentary was a nominated for an Emmy Award.[15] A profile about Zuckerman in Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism report about courage in journalism won the 2007 Mirror Award for best coverage of breaking news,[16] and he appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show.

After moving back to Oregon, Zuckerman continued to investigate the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS church while working for The Oregonian.[17] In this article, Men Sue Scouts, Mormon Church, six men allege a former troop leader and church teacher abused them and seek $25 million in compensation as the LDS church failed to thoroughly investigate, report the abuse to law enforcement, provide mental health services to victims or remove the abuser from contact with children once it learned about the abuse.[17]

Zuckerman later changed his reporting to focus on stories that had more of an environmental bent. For example, he wrote about the Forest Service loosening its environmental standards so a gas corporation can clear cut through old growth in the Mount Hood National Forest to make way for an LNG pipeline.[18]

In 2020, Zuckerman and his journalism were the subject of a documentary, "Church and the Fourth Estate," a retrospective about his reporting in Idaho,[19] attempts to stop that reporting, and what happened to the people involved.[20] The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[21]

Non-fiction author

In January 2009, Zuckerman took a leave from The Oregonian to work on a "dream book project" after his partner, Sam Adams, was elected mayor of Portland.[22] While researching the book, Zuckerman nearly died while traveling through remote regions of Nepal and ingesting a "half plant, half animal"[23] caterpillar fungus.

The book, Buried in the Sky, co-written with Amanda Padoan, tells the true adventure story of the 2008 K2 disaster from the perspective of Sherpas and Pakistani high-altitude porters. The book was published on June 11, 2012 in the United States and Canada by W.W. Norton & Company.[24] Reviews[25] are positive.[26] Outside magazine described it as "easily the most riveting and important mountaineering book of the past decade." The Wall Street Journal[27] described it as "enthralling." Men's Journal called it "an indispensable addition to the genre,"[28] and many publications, such as The Boston Globe, favorably compared it to Into Thin Air.[29]

The book was awarded the 2012 NCTE George Orwell Award,[30] the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award for mountain history,[31] the National Outdoor Book Award for History.,[32] the Independent Publishers Association award for general non-fiction,[33] and the American Society of Journalists and Author's Outstanding Book Award for general non-fiction.[34]

In 2019, Outside Magazine chose "Buried in the Sky" as part of a "Contemporary Adventure Canon" made up of the best contemporary adventure books of all time.[35]


Zuckerman has received numerous journalism awards, including the Livingston Award,[11] the National Journalism Award[36] and the C.B. Blethen Award[12]

Zuckerman has visited and taught at Poynter Institute,[37] University of Georgia[38] and the University of Southern California.[39] He is currently an adjunct fellow at the Attic Institute writing workshop[40] and a resident at the Falcon Art Community.[41]

Political campaigns

In 2013, Zuckerman became the press secretary for Oregon United for Marriage, the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon, and for Oregon United Against Discrimination, a related campaign organized to defeat an anti-gay ballot measure.[42] The anti-gay measure would have created an exception to Oregon's anti-discrimination law, allowing businesses deny service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.[43][44]

During the marriage campaign, support for gay marriage increased by 14 points, volunteers collected 160,000 signatures to put gay marriage on the ballot, and the marriage campaign raised $3 million.[45]

Later that year, Zuckerman went on to become the communications director for New Approach Oregon / Yes on 91, the campaign to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Oregon (Measure 91).[46][47] The campaign followed perennial, unsuccessful efforts to legalize marijuana by ballot initiative, including in 1986 and in 2012, which made it to the ballot, but voters had rejected. Marijuana legalization in Oregon passed with 56 percent of the vote, making Oregon the third state to legalize marijuana.[48] Drug policy advocates described the victory as a major turning point in the drug reform movement.[49][50]

In 2016, Zuckerman directed communications for 2016 Oregon Ballot Measure 98, to provide more funding for education.[51] The initiative, allocated $150 million a year into the schools to improve Oregon's graduation rate, won with 65% of the vote.[52][53]

In 2018, Zuckerman directed communications for the No on 105 campaign to protect Oregon's anti-discrimination law (No on 105).[54] The No on 105 campaign was victorious, receiving 63% of the vote.[55]

Since 2019, Zuckerman has been working as the campaign manager for the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act to decriminalize drug possession and expand drug treatment, paying for it with existing taxes on legal marijuana sales.[56][57] In 2020 during the pandemic, the campaign gathered 143,000 signatures,[58] enough to qualify the initiative for the ballot and become Measure 110.[59] The campaign raised $5.4 million[60] and won endorsements from more than 140 organizations.[61]

Measure 110 passed with 59% of the vote,[62] making Oregon the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize all drugs, including hard drugs.[63] A similar effort to decriminalize drugs in Ohio had failed.[64] The New York Times described the victory in Oregon as "one of the most radical drug-law overhauls in the nation's history,"[65] and The Intercept called it the "biggest step yet to ending the war on drugs."[66] Measure 110 is expected to generate $100 million in additional money for drug treatment in Oregon, which is four times more than the state currently spends outside of Medicaid and the criminal justice system.[67]

Personal life

Zuckerman's partner is Sam Adams, the former mayor of Portland, Oregon.[68][69][70]

See also


  1. ^ "Commencement 2003". Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
  2. ^ Zuckerman, Peter (March 1, 2002). "In my opinion: The drug Olympics". The Oregonian.
  3. ^ Zuckerman, Peter (March 16, 2002). "IN MY OPINION: Voicing an opinion". The Oregonian.
  4. ^ Saller, John (March 9, 2002). "Letter: Reed outraged by drug article". The Oregonian.
  5. ^ Bruno, Andy (March 12, 2002). "Letter: Peer pressure to excel". The Oregonian.
  6. ^ Just Out Writers, from A (Acito) to Z (Zuckerman) Just Out
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Scout's Honor". The Post Register. 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Scouts Honor was a Disservice". The Post Register. May 24, 2005.
  10. ^ a b "Accused Bias". The Post Register. May 9, 2005.
  11. ^ a b "The Livingston Awards: Past Winners". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ a b "Times, P-I take top honors in C.B. Blethen Awards". The Seattle Times. November 10, 2006.
  13. ^ Ayers, Dennis (2007-09-14). "PBS airs documentary on gay Idaho Falls reporter". Retrieved 2007-10-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "The Exposé Blog: Peter Zuckerman Archives".
  15. ^ "In a Small Town (part 1)". PBS. Archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-10-03. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Zuckerman, Peter (October 4, 2007). "Men Sue Scouts, Mormon Church: $25 million - The six allege a former troop leader and church teacher abused them". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ Zuckerman, Peter (December 24, 2008). "Forest Service plans to clear legal path for pipeline in Mount Hood forest". The Oregonian.
  19. ^ "Sundance 2020 Interview: Brian Knappenberger on a Test of a Scout's Honor in "Church and the Fourth Estate"". The Moveable Fest. 2020-01-28. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  20. ^ Stern, Marlow (2020-01-30). "The Brave Teen Who Exposed the Boy Scouts' Pedophilia Epidemic". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  21. ^ Grobar, Matt (2020-01-25). "'Church And The Fourth Estate' Director Brian Knappenberger Shines A Light On Widespread Sexual Abuse Within Idaho Boy Scouts — Sundance Studio". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Finding Nirvana- Peter Zuckerman | Nature". Scribd.
  24. ^ "W.W. Norton".
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Visual Art | Arts & Culture". Portland Monthly.
  27. ^ Ybarra, Michael J. (June 21, 2012). "Book Review: Buried in the Sky". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. ^ "The Sherpa's Story - Buried in the Sky Review". April 19, 2014.
  29. ^ "Learn more". The Boston Globe.
  30. ^ "Past Recipients of the NCTE Orwell Award" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-06-11. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. ^
  32. ^ "2012 Winners of the National Outdoor Book Awards".
  33. ^ "2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results". Independent Publisher - feature.
  34. ^
  35. ^ Salabert, Shawnté (June 15, 2019). "The 54 Books of the New Adventure Library". Outside Online.
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Peter E Zuckerman". Retrieved 2007-10-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  38. ^ University of Georgia: News & Information
  39. ^ and
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Falcon Art Community".
  42. ^ Mapes, Jeff (May 3, 2014). "Gay marriage supporters launch fight against measure letting businesses reject gay weddings". Oregonian/OregonLive.
  43. ^ "WATCH: Oregon's First Ad to Defeat 'Turn Away the Gay' Initiative". May 2, 2014.
  44. ^ [1]
  45. ^ "Reed College | Reed Magazine | In the Media".
  46. ^
  47. ^ Borrud, Hillary. "Oregon pot campaign raises over $1 million". The Bulletin.
  48. ^ Crombie, Noelle (November 5, 2014). "Recreational marijuana passes in Oregon: Oregon election results 2014". Oregonian/OregonLive.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Merica, Dan. "Oregon, Washington, D.C. legalize marijuana - CNNPolitics". CNN.
  51. ^ "Statesman Journal".
  52. ^ Barnes, Bethany (November 9, 2016). "Oregon Ballot Measures: Measure 98, 99 pass". The Oregonian/OregonLive.
  53. ^ Fick, Toya (May 15, 2019). "Opinion: Measure 98 shows Oregon is rewriting the narrative for students' future". oregonlive.
  54. ^ Henry, George (October 31, 2018). "Florence Woman Pleads Guilty; The Polarizing 105; Last Day to Mail Ballots; Cougar Sighting; Traveling Memorial - Coast Radio - Florence Oregon News - KCST • KCFM".
  55. ^ "Oregon Measure 105, Repeal Sanctuary State Law Initiative (2018)". Ballotpedia.
  56. ^ Crombie, Noelle (December 6, 2019). "Signature gathering begins for Oregon initiative to decriminalize small amounts of all drugs". The Oregonian/OregonLive.
  57. ^ "Oregon Measure 110, Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative (2020)". Ballotpedia.
  58. ^ "Oregon's drug treatment campaign turns in 143,000 signatures". Yes on Measure 110. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  59. ^ "Measure to expand drug treatment and decriminalization makes Oregon ballot". KDRV News. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  60. ^ "Oregon Measure 110, Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative (2020)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  61. ^ "Yes on Measure 110 - Organizations". Yes on Measure 110. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  62. ^ Fuller, Thomas (2020-11-04). "Oregon Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Heroin and Cocaine; Four States Legalize Marijuana". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  63. ^ "Will Oregon be the first state to decriminalize all drugs?". Salon. September 29, 2019.
  64. ^ "Ohio Rejects Low-Level Drug Offense Decriminalization | The Recovery Village Columbus". Columbus Recovery Center | Ohio Drug and Alcohol Rehab Facility. 2018-12-14. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  65. ^ Johnson, Kirk (2020-11-02). "In the Pandemic, a Shifting Ballot Debate on Legalizing Drugs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  66. ^ LennardNovember 4 2020, Natasha; P.m, 8:23. "Oregon's Decriminalization Vote Might Be Biggest Step Yet to Ending War on Drugs". The Intercept. Retrieved 2020-11-05.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  67. ^ Lopez, German (2020-10-21). "Oregon's ballot measure to decriminalize all drugs, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  68. ^ "Navigating Between Silence and Speech". Archived from the original on 19 June 2004.
  69. ^ "Gossip should have no friends". Willamette Week. 2008-05-21. Archived from the original on 2010-01-12. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  70. ^ Rothaus, Steve. "Gay man becomes Portland, Ore., mayor at midnight".