The Art of Political Writing: a conversation with Washington columnist James Bennet

April 21, 2023
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Virtual Webinar & livestream
Communication—writing in particular—is the lifeblood of politics and journalism. Rosenthal Fellow Adam Lashinsky, who is at work on a biography of the Presidential speechwriter and political columnist William Safire, is hosting a series of interviews with today's leading practitioners of the craft. Join him in conversation with top columnists and speechwriters for a discussion of technique, of-the-moment topics in Washington, and the interdependent relationships between political writers and their government subjects and clients.

As “Lexington” columnist for The Economist, James Bennet has one of the most enviable beats in political journalism: all of the United States as well as its capital. Bennet has his finger on the pulse of the country’s political players as well as ordinary citizens throughout the land. Multiple important roles throughout his career inform his perspective: A former White House correspondent and Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times, he also served as editor-in-chief of The Atlantic and editorial page editor of The Times.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Rosenthal Fellow Adam LashinskyBennet discussed his approach to covering a big country with one witty column each week. He has a unique perspective on the vectors of political power in Washington as well as the state of the journalistic community that covers officialdom. This conversation is especially helpful for anyone wanting to understand how the rich mosaic of a polarized country fits together—and what roles government officials and journalists play in coloring the pieces.

James Bennet is the weekly Lexington columnist at The Economist. He was previously the editorial page editor of The New York Times, where he oversaw the digital transformation of the paper’s opinion department and led it to two Pulitzer prizes in four years, its first in more than a decade. Before joining The Times, Mr. Bennet was the editor in chief and co-president of The Atlantic. Under Mr. Bennet, who was named editor in 2006, The Atlantic substantially increased its audience and editorial impact while returning to profitability for the first time in many years. Adweek and Ad Age named Mr. Bennet editor of the year in 2012 and 2009 respectively, and the magazine was honored with the National Magazine Award four times during his tenure, including Magazine of the Year and best website.  Before joining The Atlantic, Mr. Bennet worked for The Times for 15 years in several reporting roles, including Jerusalem bureau chief, White House correspondent and Detroit bureau chief.  He also served as staff writer for the Sunday Magazine. Before joining the Times, Mr. Bennet was an editor with The Washington Monthly. He and his wife have two sons.

Adam Lashinsky is the A.M. Rosenthal Writer-in-Residence at the Shorenstein Center. Adam is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and seasoned TV and radio commentator who has covered the technology industry, finance, and other topics for more than 30 years, with postings and assignments on three continents. He is the former executive editor of Fortune Magazine, where for two decades he covered the biggest and fastest-growing companies in Silicon Valley, as well as venture capital, Wall Street, and a wide variety of industries. Before joining Fortune, Lashinsky held positions at, The San Jose Mercury News, and Crain’s Chicago Business. For many years he was an on-air contributor to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network as well as Marketplace Radio. Lashinsky freelances for a variety of publications, including The Washington PostInsiderThe InformationThe San Francisco Examiner, and Airmail, and is developing two documentary film projects. He is the author of two books: the New York Times bestseller Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired—and Secretive—Company Really Works (2012) as well as Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination (2017). Lashinsky is currently writing a biography of William Safire, the late newspaper columnist and presidential speechwriter.