Kinsley Forgoes Harvard for Guardian Editorship

Web journalism guru Michael E. Kinsley ’72 didn’t like to admit it, but he was planning to come back to school next semester.

“I’m going to...I hate to say ‘teach a course at Harvard,’” Kinsley somewhat sheepishly told Newsweek this month, leaving journalism wonks and web geeks cheering on the banks of the Charles.

But the founder of Slate Magazine and former Crimson vice president now has new plans—he’ll pass up the Harvard gig to become the American editor at large for the Guardian of London.

“Whoops! Plans have changed,” Kinsley wrote in an e-mail.

The Michigan-native spent almost seven years in Cambridge as an undergraduate and law student—departing for two years on a Rhodes Scholarship—and has served as editor of The New Republic, managing editor of Washington Monthly, and more recently, editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times.

He has also worked for the Washington Post, The Economist, and Harper’s.

Kinsley has become a leading figure in exploring the use of alternative media in journalism. He joined CNN’s Crossfire in 1989 before the rise of cable television news and, with Microsoft’s backing, founded Slate—an online magazine devoted to politics, culture, and arts—in the Internet’s infancy, years before buckets of ink were spilled on the political might of the blogosphere.

He has become somewhat of a newspaper nomad of late, hop-scotching from Slate to the Los Angeles Times and now to the Guardian.

According to Kinsley, a former Mather House resident, his seminar would have been non-credit and sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, “pairing journalism types with web code jockey types to dream up and produce gadgets for reading the news on the web.”

“Too bad,” Kinsley wrote, “I was looking forward [to it]. But maybe I’ll try again after I settle in at the Guardian—if the Shorensteinistas will have me back.”

Asked if the invitation was still open, Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center, wrote in an e-mail that “we do indeed at some point hope to have Michael Kinsley at the Shorenstein Center. Exactly when and exactly doing what I can’t say, but we would welcome the chance to try it again.”

—Staff writer Samuel P. Jacobs can be reached at jacobs@fas.harvard.edu.