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Chris Peck

Chris Peck is an award-winning American journalist, columnist and newspaper editor.

He served as managing editor of The Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Washington (1982-2001), and has been editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, since December 2002.

Chris has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure newspapers across the country can adapt and survive in a world increasingly dominated by alternative news sources.

Chris Peck
Chris Peck
Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: August 2, 1950, Lander, Fremont County, Wyoming, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: (Alive as of 2012)

Wife: Kathleen Duignan (m. September 10, 1977)

Daughter: Sarah Kathleen Peck
Son: Cody Peck

Father: Robert Arthur Peck (b. October 7, 1924, Riverton, Fremont County, Wyoming - d. March 6, 2007, at 12:51 p.m., Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne, Wyoming, of pneumonia and West Nile virus)
Mother: Cordelia Ruth Smith (b. April 19, 1926 - d. February 17, 1996, in an auto accident)


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, Wyoming.

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 editor (1977-79).

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 (SMU).

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, Tennessee.

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 Photographers competition."

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."

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