Biography

At a press conference for Senate candidate Harvey Gantt, 1990. Photo by Sadie Bridger

“He’s taught big-city reporters a thing or two about investigative journalism.”

        –Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Barry Yeoman specializes in in-depth reporting that puts a human face on complex issues. In recent years he has brought readers and listeners into:

  • a seminary where Christian missionaries learn to convert Muslims;
  • a lab where the fundamental assumptions of dinosaur science are being challenged;
  • a remote First Nation community threatened by tar-sands operations;
  • a training ground for private soldiers on secret missions;
  • a New Hampshire town threatening secession from the United States;
  • a boat operated by two shrimpers trying to cope with the BP oil spill;
  • the Washington corridors where super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff rose to power before his fall;
  • corner blues joints in New Orleans that struggle to keep their doors open; and
  • the inside of his own DNA.

He has written about Southern chicken farmers, brain-injured athletes, earnest Promise Keepers, an American strategist for the Iraqi resistance, controversial sex researchers, suicidal teenagers, Spanish Carnival musicians, salmon fishermen, Jews for Jesus, and the women whose lives are caught up in the debate over “partial birth” abortion.

Barry’s work has appeared in Parade; The American Prospect; O, The Oprah Magazine; OnEarth; Saturday Evening Post; Discover; The New York Times; AARP The Magazine; Mother Jones; Audubon; Rolling Stone; Reader’s Digest; The Nation; Psychology Today; salon.com; Good Housekeeping; and many other publications. It has been translated into Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian and reprinted around the world, from Great Britain to Japan. It has won him a slew of accolades. Columbia Journalism Review, the nation’s premiere journalism magazine, named Barry one of nine investigative reporters who are “out of the spotlight but on the mark.” The Columbia University School of Journalism and Poynter Institute have described Barry’s work as “the essence of excellence.” Project Censored has honored him four times for writing about undercovered issues. (For a list of awards, see the righthand column of this page.)

Interviewing Congressman Mel Watt at 1992 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Jenny Warburg

He has recently made forays into documentary radio, too. His 2008 documentary Picking Up the Pieces, which he reported, narrated, and co-produced for Prime Time Radio, was honored by American Women in Radio & Television with a 2009 Gracie. In 2010 he produced, with Richard Ziglar, a two-part, two-hour series called Still Singing the Blues, about older blues musicians in New Orleans and South Louisiana. The Yeoman-Ziglar duo also produced a 2012 documentary called Zydeco Nation about the Louisiana Creole migration to Northern California.

A 1982 graduate of New York University, Barry began his journalism career in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he developed his taste for Tabasco while writing about Cajun culture and politics for the Times of Acadiana. He also wrote the first documented newspaper article about Catholic-priest sexual abuse.

In 1985, Barry moved to his current hometown of Durham, North Carolina, to write for The Independent (now IndyWeek), an award-winning newsweekly praised for its “spine of steel” and its relentless commitment to investigative journalism. There, Barry wrote about the area’s worst landlords (including Senator Jesse Helms), the politics of highway construction, and the region’s growing Hispanic immigrant community. He also covered state government with a candor unprecedented in the state’s press corps. (Immediately after Barry named Gov. Jim Martin “the official state vegetable,” the governor announced at a press conference that he was not, in fact, a vegetable.) Barry’s exposé of the poultry industry won him the National Magazine Award for Public Interest, and his “Highway Robbery” series received the Green Eyeshade Award, the South’s preeminent journalism prize. In 1998 he was awarded the Batten Medal for journalism that demonstrates extraordinary humanity.

Barry’s work has been reprinted in several books, including  The Global Investigative Journalism Casebook; Best American Science Writing 2007; Wanderlust: Real Life Tales of Adventure and Romance; Merchants of Misery: How Corporate America Profits from Poverty; The Best Business Stories of the Year; 27 Views of Durham; and The World’s Best Sex Writing 2005. For book ordering information, click here.

In addition to his writing, Barry has taught undergraduate journalism at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. During the summer, he teaches at Duke Young Writers’ Camp in Durham. And he serves as the editorial producer for Life Reimagined, a segment of the TODAY show about life reinvention hosted by Jane Pauley and jointly produced by NBC and AARP.

Click here for Barry’s resume.