Award-winning UO professor to lead session on cross cultural and cross language journalistic interview

Peter Laufer

A master of multiple forms of media who has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, journalist Peter Laufer will speak at Fall Press Day Oct. 15 in Eugene at the University of Oregon on “Cross Cultural & Cross Language Journalistic Interview.” The session will show students how to conduct a journalistic interview when the subject and the interviewer do not share a common language and/or a common culture.  He holds the James Wallace Chair in Journalism, an endowment from a UO journalism graduate.

The interview is a critical tool for journalists, and every human interaction constitutes a form of interview.   This class is designed to improve and professionalize students’ interviewing skills, from crafting questions to the critical task of listening actively and creatively to answers.

Peter Laufer is an award-winning author, broadcaster, documentarian and journalist. He has studied and taught throughout the world — Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. He sent home reports on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the wars in Central America for NBC Radio, reported for CBS Radio as the Berlin Wall fell, and chased butterflies in Nicaragua for his book The Dangerous World of Butterflies.

An accomplished author of over a dozen well-reviewed books, Laufer writes on borders, migration and identity along with animal rights. He also reported, wrote and produced several documentaries while an NBC News correspondent, ranging in topics from the crises facing Vietnam War veterans to illiteracy and hunger in America, and a study of Americans encarcerated overseas for which he won the George Polk Award.

UO scoops up noted journalist

By Melody Ward Leslie

Journalist Peter Laufer now calls the University of Oregon home thanks to a new endowed chair funded by the estate of James and Haya Wallace.

James Wallace, a 1950 UO journalism graduate, covered the Vietnam War for U.S. News & World Report and the Middle East and Cuba forThe Wall Street Journal.

“The opportunity to hold this chair in particular, because of the heritage that comes with it, is thrilling,” Laufer said.

He described Wallace as a foreign correspondent “in the era of the fedora and trench coat,” going anywhere and everywhere to find the story and bring it home at a time when journalism was more about the story than the storyteller. “That’s an extraordinarily important lesson for students today,” he said.

Laufer’s knack for being at the scene of historic events is perhaps best illustrated by his reporting from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on the Soviet invasion for NBC Radio and for CBS Radio as the Berlin Wall fell.

“It’s fun to go to the place where nobody else is and have it for yourself,” he admitted, “but I’ve got work to do right here, helping build out a cadre of journalists who are Ducks.”

Soon after his arrival last fall, Laufer immediately set about bringing the world to his students by inviting a group of Iraqi journalists to campus.

“We’re joining with our colleagues worldwide in reinventing journalism for the current era and for the future,” he said. “The Ducks here in Allen Hall are changing the world of journalism, literally, and that’s what will change the world.”

Above all, Laufer refutes doomsayers who claim journalism’s heyday has passed. He points out that enrollment in the UO’s journalism school is at an all-time high. The tenfold increase in majors is driving a $15 million project, funded by gifts and state bonds, to build a three-story addition to Allen Hall.

“It’s just a spectacular time to be at the University of Oregon and here at the School of Journalism and Communication,” he enthused. “The energy is palpable and the feeling is that of focused but explosive growth.”

A master of multiple forms of media, Laufer also has written 18 well-received books of social and political criticism. No Animals Were Harmed During the Writing of This Book,” the final installment in his natural history trilogy, will be published this fall.