As a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter and author of two prize-winning books, I have written extensively about America's fault lines of race, class and immigration. My articles and books have won multiple awards, including from the National Association of Black Journalists—one of few white journalists so honored. I appear regularly on National Public Radio and have been featured on CNN, network and cable shows, the Oprah Winfrey show and dozens of local cable and talk shows.
The topic of race has been at the forefront of my entire career. Arriving in Boston in the 1980s to work for the Boston Globe after growing up on New York's Upper West Side and working as a young reporter in Hong Kong and Chicago, I was struck by the deep racial divisions that ran beneath the city's rich history and the educational accomplishments of Harvard which prompted Boston to consider itself the "Athens of America." The upshot was the conception and leading role in writing the Pulitzer-Prize-winning series in the Boston Globe that examined race and job discrimination in Boston and five other cities—a series Pulitzer judges praised as "a notable exercise in public service that turned a searching gaze on some the city's most honored institutions including The Globe itself."
In 1984, I went to an editorial meeting at the Boston Globe attended by Louis Farrakhan who had angered Jews by saying Hitler was "great man" and denouncing Judaism as a "dirty religion." Within minutes, shouting matches erupted between black reporters and Jewish reporters in the newsroom, many of whom had worked together for years. I had always taken it for granted, perhaps naively, that blacks and Jews supported each other. Suddenly it was clear how little each knew about the other. Sparked by that newsroom confrontation, I embarked on a year-long investigation of the history and state of black-Jewish relations, resulting in the seminal book Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America (Scribner 1988) which won the National Jewish Book Award, was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, and praised by black and white reviewers alike. Christopher Lehman-Haupt in The New York Times praised Broken Alliance as “extraordinary perspective” and for its “graceful analysis.” Juan Williams in the Washington Post wrote: “A first-rate job of recounting telling episodes that reveal the emotional dimensions of the great divide now separating blacks and Jews.” The book was widely reviewed and featured television and radio shows across the country.
In 1989, while covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and the democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe, I was running along the streets of Prague when I spotted an ancient building with a Jewish star—the building turned out to be a 13 century synagogue. It was the remnant of the once thriving Jewish communities of Germany and Eastern Europe wiped out by the Holocaust. As communism collapsed, I discovered another remnant: communities of Jews in Budapest and Prague and East Berlin and even Warsaw numbering tens of thousands who had been trapped behind the Iron Curtain and had hidden their identities, or abandoned them, or hadn't even been told by their parents that they were Jewish. Now with communism over, they were stepping back into the light facing a new world in which democracy brought freedom but also a wave of right wing violence and attacks in Germany and gleeful crowds shouting "Auschwitz! Auschwitz!" at soccer games in Hungary and Romania. In my book, A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe (Viking 1997) I wove the stories of five families through the terrible history of 20th century Germany and Eastern Europe, concluding with the hopeful present and Jewish life showing stirrings of rebirth in the same lands that once murdered millions of Jews. “Highly recommended” by Library Journal, the book was named a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Francine Prose wrote in Newsday: "Carefully researched” and “profoundly chilling. . . family histories so eventful they keep us reading with unflagging interest."
From 1995 to 2001 I wrote about race, class and ethnic issues for the Wall Street Journal's legendary front page, winning the National Headliner Award, the UNITY award, and other prizes. In 2002 I moved to Beijing with my family to become China bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, overseeing coverage of the the country's headlong economic expansion and, with my wife, navigating raising three children in a very foreign country.
Returning to New York, I became deputy Page One editor of the Journal, over seeing the launch of the Journal's Saturday edition.
I am currently education editor of Bloomberg News based in Boston, overseeing a team of reporters covering higher education and K-12. I oversaw and edited the series "Education Inc." which exposed the abuses of for-profit colleges and won the George Polk Award, the Gerald Loeb award, the Education Writers Association Grand Prize, the National Headliners Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.
I hold a B.A. in English from Yale University and an M.A. in Regional Studies – East Asia from Harvard University. I live outside Boston with my wife and three children and the dog we brought back from China.