Christopher Peck was born to Bob and Cordelia Peck,
August 2nd, 1950, in Lander, Wyoming. His father
was co-owner of a local weekly newspaper, The
Riverton Times. The paper later merged with the
Riverton Review, and the resulting "Riverton Ranger"
became a biweekly. In 1959, his father and uncle
acquired full ownership of the paper and the
following year they transformed the Riverton
Ranger into a daily newspaper.
At age 11, Chris began his career in the newspaper
business sweeping up at the family-owned newspaper.
His father later published a chain of newspapers
in communities across Wyoming and into Montana,
before serving several terms in the Wyoming State
Senate. Bob Peck was also notable as the
founder of Central Wyoming College, in Riverton,
While studying communications at Stanford University,
Chris acted as a writer/editor for the Stanford Daily.
He graduated in 1972, and continued following in his
father's footsteps. He was editor of the Wood River
Journal, in Hailey, Idaho (1974-75), before advancing
to the Times-News, in Twin Falls, Idaho. Peck was city
editor at the Times-News from 1975-76, then managing
In 1979, Chris Peck was brought onboard as a
columnist at The Spokesman-Review, in Spokane,
Washington. Don Gormley, former managing editor
at The Chicago Daily News and the newly-hired
managing editor at the Spokane paper, was responsible
for hiring him. Gormley is credited with quickly
transforming The Spokesman-Review into a
multi-award-winning newspaper by overhauling the
design of the paper, bringing a fresh perspective
to the writing staff, expanding the use of color,
and devoting an increasing amount of space to
documentary photographs. "Don was a very important
part of my career," Chris later recalled. Within
three years Peck was named managing editor at the
paper. Chris not only continued the reforms Gormley
initiated, but expanded on them.
Under his award-winning leadership, The Spokesman-Review
gained a reputation as one of the finest newspapers
in the nation. During his tenure, the newspaper -- the
largest between Seattle and Minneapolis -- won numerous
awards, was repeatedly named the best daily newspaper
in the Inland Northwest as well as one of the
best-designed papers in the world. The Spokesman-Review
is a locally owned, privately-held newspaper that
can trace its roots back to 1883 when it was known
as the Spokane Review. He continued at its helm
until 2001, when he departed to accept the Belo
Distinguished Chair of Journalism at the Meadows
School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University
During his single year as head of the journalism
program, he helped shape the development of a digital
newsroom to facilitate the convergence of print,
broadcast and online media. In 2003, he began his
journey as editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis,
While editor of The Commercial Appeal, Peck was
at the center of a controversy involving the
publication of gruesome photographs during the
Iraq war. The grisly photos appeared in a number
of newspapers and showed the charred, mutilated
bodies of Americans during the 2004 Fallujah
offensive. The Commercial Appeal was among those
who carried the shocking photos. As editor, Chris
made the decision to run one of the photographs
on the front page along with a word of warning
regarding the graphic nature of a second image
that ran inside. "I felt the truth of the photos
needed to be shown to our readers," Peck explained.
The photographs provoked outrage in many readers.
While some thought they should be publicized because
they illustrated the savagery of the Iraqi insurgency,
others were concerned about exposing such graphic
photos to children and felt newspapers needed to
exercise greater restraint to help stem the flow
of violent imagery to which the public is increasingly
subjected. Shortly after the uproar, Peck served
as moderator of a discussion about "tough calls
in photojournalism" at a joint session of the
Associated Press Managing Editors and the Associated
Press Photo Managers annual conferences.
Like his father before him, he's taught university
courses, seminars and workshops on journalism.
He's lectured at several colleges, organized
training conferences for editors and moderated
numerous journalism forums. Chris Peck has been
lauded as a visionary in the newspaper industry
and has emerged as a leader in efforts to find
innovative solutions to ensure the survival of
newspapers in the 21st century. In addition to
his editorial responsibilities, he's served as
President of the Associated Press Managing
Editors, and founded The National Credibility
Roundtables Project to organize and coordinate
roundtable discussions between newspapers and
their readers. He was also editor of The
American Editor, the monthly journal of the
American Society of Newspaper Editors, and
acted as a juror for several major journalism
awards including the Pulitzer Prize.
In September of 2007, continuing to seek new
approaches to stimulate newspaper advertising,
Chris Peck used the term "monetizing content" to
detail the concept of selling advertising for
specific columns and news coverage. While
maintaining independent reporting by offering
sponsors no editorial control or oversight, this
linking of specific advertisers to specific
columns or news coverage offered a fresh approach
in the battle to increase newspaper advertising.
Peck explained that the strategy is meant "to
build revenue and to craft a new kind of business
model for journalism."
Chris and his wife Kate Duignan married September
10th, 1977, and have two grown kids.
Quotes - In his own words:
"I'm convinced the future of newspapers depends upon
the strength of the connection between the newspaper
and the communities a newspaper serves."
"Photojournalism is one of the core franchises of
the Spokesman-Review, and should be a core franchise
at every newspaper. Strong documentary photography
is something our competitors simply cannot do. In
Spokane, we have built a strong photo staff around
a pledge to treat photography as an equal partner
to the written word. It is a reason why the newspaper
has been a multiple winner of the National Press
A strong advocate for greater coverage of international
events in local papers, Chris once commented: "Local
news is the whole franchise for a local newspaper
because it's the one piece of the spectrum that they
can own. But the definition of local news is changing
and becoming more global. It's where the newspaper
industry is headed."
He's a fisherman, jogger, an accordion and piano player,
a collector of Native American art, and even found time
to coach his son's AAU basketball team.
As an accordion player, his interview of noted accordionist
and Lawrence Welk Show star, Myron Floren,
remains "a career highlight."