Charles Peters Biography
Charles Peters is an American journalist, editor, and author. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly magazine and the author of “We Do Our Part: Toward A Fairer and More Equal America (Random House, 2017).
Charles Peters Age
Charles Peters was born in Charleston, West Virginia on December 22, 1926.
Charles Peters Early Life
Peters was born in Charleston, West Virginia on December 22, 1926, though no information about his childhood and family is known.
He attended and graduated from Charleston High School in 1944. Still, in 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving at Ohio University, Camp Atterbury in Indiana, and Fort McClellan, Alabama, where an injury in a training accident resulted in his being in Army hospitals for several months, and his discharge from the Army in 1946.
In 1946, he went to Columbia College in New York City. After receiving his BA in 1949, he entered graduate school at Columbia and received his MA in 1951. In 1952-53, he worked for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York. During the summers from 1946 through 1954, he performed various backstage roles at summer theaters in Boylston, Massachusetts, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Newport, Rhode Island, and had his own repertory company in Charleston, West Virginia.
In 1954, Peters entered the University of Virginia School of Law. He was named to the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review in 1955, where he served until his graduation in 1957.
Charles Peters Career
His career debuted in 1959 after he was named chief staff officer of the Judiciary Committee of the West Virginia House of Delegates. In 1960, he was elected a member of the House. Still, he also managed the primary and general election campaigns in Kanawha County for presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.
After serving in the 1961 session of the legislature, he went to Washington, D.C. to help start the Peace Corps. In 1962, after he returned to serve legislative session, he was named the Peace Corps’ director of evaluation, a position that required him to report on the performance of the agency’s programs overseas and on how they could be improved.
Founder of The Washington Monthly
In 1968, Peters resigned from the Peace Corps to begin planning a new magazine; The Washington Monthly.
The magazine’s description said its purpose would be “to look at Washington the way an anthropologist looks at a South Sea island,” at the same time helping the reader understand our system of politics and government, where it breaks down, why it breaks down, and what can be done to make it work.”
In January 1969, the first issue was published. The articles that were published include; “The White House Staff vs. the Cabinet,” “What Happens to a Senator’s Day,” and “The Data Game.”
Among the authors were such journalists as David Broder, Murray Kempton, Russell Baker, and Calvin Trillin, as well as people who had worked in government, such as Peters, former White House aide Bill Moyers, and former U.S. Senate aide James Boyd. One author characterizes Peters and the magazine as important influences on radical centrist political thought.
Peters served as editor of The Washington Monthly until he retired in 2001, but continued to write a regular column Tilting at Windmills for the magazine until 2014. Russell Baker, in an interview in the alumni magazine Columbia College Today, called him“a great editor in an age that’s not producing great editors.”
The founder of Understanding Government
In 1998 he founded a non-profit organization called Understanding Government with the purpose of improving press coverage of the executive branch of government. The organization sponsored the first-ever Prize for Preventive Journalism, given in 2008 to journalist Michael Grunwald, and has published reports on federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2012, Peters retired from Understanding Government, and it ceased operations in 2014.
Charles Peters Books
He has authored different books and also edited a number of articles,
As The Author:
- We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing ‘We Want Willkie!’ Convention of 1940 and
- How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World
- How Washington Really Works
- Tilting At Windmills: An Autobiography
As The Co-editor:
- Blowing the Whistle (with Taylor Branch)
- The System (with James Fallows)
- The Culture of Bureaucracy (with Michael Nelson)
- A New Road for America: The Neoliberal Movement (with Phil Keisling)
- Inside the System (with Timothy Adams – first ed.; with John Rothchild – second ed.; with James Fallows – third ed.; with Nicholas Lemann – fourth ed.; with Jonathan Alter – fifth ed.)
Charles Peters Net Worth
His net worth is still under review.
Charles Peters Awards
In 1978, Peters received the Columbia Journalism Award and was a Poynter Fellow at Yale University in 1980, in 1990, the Delacorte Lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in 1994.
In 1996, he was named the recipient of the first Richard M. Clurman Award for his work mentoring young journalists.
In 2001, he was also elected to the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors and the Hall of Fame of the D.C. Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2002 he was the Times Mirror David M. Laventhol Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
In 2003 he received the Carr Van Anda Award from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University. From September 2002 through April 2003, he was a Public Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.