Peter’s Bio

SmirkI began writing about environmental issues in the Finger Lakes in 2009, amid the first skirmishes over fracking. I brought to it more than 30 years of experience and perspective from a journalism career focused on financial, legal and political issues in Atlanta, New York City and Hartford, CT.

Between 2010 and 2016, I wrote about 50 investigative stories related to the Finger Lakes for, a non-profit website based in Washington, D.C. I also wrote more than a dozen environmental columns for (a local website in Schuyler County, NY) and two dozen OP-ED opinion columns for the Corning Leader newspaper, mostly in 2012 and 2013 at the height of the fracking battles. I’ve reposted copies of all those wayward DCBureau, OdessaFile and Corning Leader stories on Water Front.

UNCUnknownI have a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1974) and a MA in journalism from Ohio State University (1991). I split up my undergraduate years by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps toward the end of the Viet Nam war. After UNC, I was lucky to land a job at The Winston-Salem Journal, which had recently won the Pulitzer Public Service award (1971).


In 1983, I left North Carolina for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where I covered banking, insurance, courts and politics for 17 years. That newspaper nominated me for the Pulitzer Prize in 1985, 1989 and 1992, but I went 0-3. I have won a first place regional reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists as well as several first place awards from the Associated Press, UPI and others.ShellGame

My Pulitzer-nominated 1992 investigation into an international bank fraud led me to publish the non-fiction book Shell Game (St. Martin’s Press, 1995). It turns out that an obscure Atlanta branch of an Italian government-owned bank was Saddam Hussein’s primary financial channel in the West, a source for billions of dollars in secret and illegal loans for Iraqi missile, chemical and nuclear programs. In a brief review, The New York Times called it “smart, tenacious and uncompromised.” The National Law Journal published an excerpt, and for a while the Atlanta Public library had trouble hanging onto its copies.

TheDealAt the height of the tech boom in early 2000, I left Atlanta for New York City and a job at The Daily Deal (now known as The Deal), a newspaper/website covering Wall Street and financial transactions worldwide. I was a senior editor in charge of reporters in Washington (antitrust regulation) and San Francisco (Silicon Valley). That great job came with an horrendous round-trip daily commute of more than four hours, so I bailed in early 2001 to become the editor of Long Island Business News, a weekly newspaper/daily website that I ran for nearly three years.

I’ve been married to Laura, for 47 years, most of them glorious. We have three grown kids and eight grandchildren, ranging in age from one year to 22 (see Schuyler, now 7, with me, below). After tagging along after me on journalism-driven moves for decades, Laura decided in 2004 that it was time for us to settle in the Finger Lakes, where her family has deep roots. Fair enough.Orwell

Except for my eventful 11-month stint as the editor of The Hartford Business Journal (during the buildup to the 2008 financial crisis), we’ve lived within walking distance of Seneca Lake ever since.

My posts on Water Front are based on in-depth reporting. While they often include my opinions, I strive to be as fair as possible to all parties involved. Have I written something you know to be incorrect or believe to be unfair? Please email me at, and let’s hash it out.

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