Zuckerman attended Chadwick School in Los Angeles County, California, and graduated from Reed College in Portland with a degree in biology in 2003. While a student at Reed, Zuckerman served on the editorial board of the Reed College Quest, a student-run newspaper. In March 2002 he wrote an opinion piece in The Oregonian ("The drug Olympics") condemning competitive use of drugs like gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, at the school. He was the target of numerous threats within the Reed College community, and he was both adversely criticized and also praised in letters to the Oregonian.
Zuckerman interned for the Portland weekly Just Out while at Reed, delivering the paper and fact-checking telephone numbers. He also interned for the Portland bureau of the Associated Press and The Springfield News. He went on to work as a journalist in Eastern Idaho.
In 2006, Zuckerman was the lead writer of a controversial multi-part story, Scouts' Honor, in the Idaho Falls Post Register about the coverup of a multi-state child molestation case involving at least two dozen minors and the Boy Scouts of America in Idaho. He was accused of having a bias against the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS Church because of his sexual orientation.
For work on the series, Zuckerman received the 2006 Livingston Award and the 2007 C.B. Blethen Award, and the Post-Register won the Scripps Foundation's 2005 National Journalism Awards for distinguished service to the First Amendment.
After the story was published, Zuckerman became the target of personal attacks on the basis of his homosexual orientation.
Zuckerman was profiled in a September 25, 2007, documentary, "In A Small Town," broadcast in the PBS series, Exposé: America's Investigative Reports. The documentary was a nominated for an Emmy Award. A profile about Zuckerman in Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism report about courage in journalism won the 2007 Mirror Award for best coverage of breaking news, and he appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show.
After moving back to Oregon, Zuckerman continued to investigate the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS church in his reporting in 2007 while working for The Oregonian. In this article, Men Sue Scouts, Mormon Church, six men allege a former troop leader and church teacher abused them and seek $25 million in compensation as the LDS church failed to thoroughly investigate, report the abuse to law enforcement, provide mental health services to victims or remove the abuser from contact with children once it learned about the abuse.
Zuckerman later changed his reporting to focus on stories that had more of an environmental bent. For example, he wrote about the Forest Service loosening its environmental standards so a gas corporation can clear cut through old growth in the Mount Hood National Forest to make way for an LNG pipeline.
In January 2009, Zuckerman took a leave from The Oregonian to work on a "dream book project" after his partner, Sam Adams, was elected mayor of Portland While researching the book, Zuckerman nearly died while traveling through remote regions of Nepal and ingesting a "half plant, half animal" caterpillar fungus.
The book, Buried in the Sky, co-written with Amanda Padoan, tells the true adventure story of the 2008 K2 disaster from the perspective of Sherpas and Pakistani high-altitude porters. The book was published on June 11, 2012 in the United States and Canada by W.W. Norton & Company. Reviews are positive. Outside magazine described it as "easily the most riveting and important mountaineering book of the past decade." The Wall Street Journal described it as "enthralling." Men's Journal called it "an indispensable addition to the genre," and many publications, such as The Boston Globe, favorably compared it to Into Thin Air. The book was awarded the 2012 NCTE George Orwell Award, the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award for mountain history, the National Outdoor Book Award for History., the Independent Publishers Association award for general non-fiction, and the American Society of Journalists and Author's Outstanding Book Award for general non-fiction.
Zuckerman has received numerous journalism awards, including the Livingston Award, the National Journalism Award and the C.B. Blethen Award
Zuckerman has visited and taught at Poynter Institute, University of Georgia and the University of Southern California. He is currently an adjunct fellow at the Attic Institute writing workshop and a resident at the Falcon Art Community.
In 2013, Zuckerman became the press secretary for Oregon United for Marriage, the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon, and for Oregon United Against Discrimination, a related campaign organized to defeat an anti-gay ballot measure. The anti-gay measure would have created an exception to Oregon's anti-discrimination law, allowing businesses to turn people away because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
During the marriage campaign, support for gay marriage increased by 14 points, volunteers collected 160,000 signatures to put gay marriage on the ballot, and the marriage campaign raised $3 million. In May 2014, LGBT Oregonians won marriage early, through a court case. The anti-gay ballot measure was prevented from qualifying for the ballot.
Later that year, Zuckerman went on to become the communications director for New Approach Oregon / Yes on 91, the campaign to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Oregon (Measure 91). Marijuana legalization in Oregon passed with 56 percent of the vote.
Zuckerman is the son of Bruce Zuckerman, director of Archaeological Research at the University of Southern California.
Zuckerman's partner is Sam Adams, the former mayor of Portland. The Oregonian and Zuckerman took steps to ensure he had no influence over the coverage of his partner.
In 2016, Zuckerman put a Facebook Live video up about the cracking of an old safe his family had discovered under the floorboards. The video went viral, was picked up by media and got hundreds of thousands of views.