Margaret Sullivan (journalist)

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Margaret Sullivan
Sullivan in 2016
Margaret M. Sullivan

  • Journalist
  • columnist
  • editor

Margaret M. Sullivan is an American journalist who is the former media columnist for The Washington Post. She was the fifth public editor of The New York Times and the first woman to hold the position. In that role, she reported directly to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. as the "readers' representative". She began her tenure on September 1, 2012, joining The New York Times from The Buffalo News, where she had been editor and vice-president. Her first column in The Washington Post ran on May 22, 2016. On Nov. 2, 2023, Sullivan was named the executive director for the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at the Columbia Journalism School.[1]


Sullivan is a native of Lackawanna, New York.[2] She is the daughter of John Sullivan, an attorney, and Elaine Saab Sullivan, a department store buyer and school teacher.[3] She graduated from Nardin Academy in Buffalo, where she served as editor in chief of the school newspaper and captain of the basketball team.[4] She is a graduate of Georgetown University.[5] She also holds an M.S.J. from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.[6] Sullivan joined The Buffalo News in 1980 as a summer intern, becoming the paper's first female editor in 1999.[7] In 1985, she married fellow Buffalo News journalist Charles Anzalone.[8]

Sullivan was appointed to the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2011. She has been a juror several times and has served as the chairwoman of the commentary jury in 2006. She has been elected a director of the American Society of News Editors and led its First Amendment committee.[9] Sullivan is also the author of Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy, which was published by Columbia Global Reports in 2020,[10] and her memoir, Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life, which was published by St. Martin's Press in 2022.[11]


The Buffalo News[edit]

Sullivan was the first woman to serve as the editor and as the managing editor of The Buffalo News, the largest newspaper in Western New York, after previously working as a reporter and columnist. Sullivan focused The Buffalo News's reporting on poverty, economic development and inequities in public education and established its first investigative team.[9]

The New York Times[edit]

In the New York Times announcement of Sullivan's appointment on July 16, 2012, former executive editor Jill Abramson said, "Margaret has exactly the right experience to assume this critical role for us at this time. She has an impressive 32-year background in print journalism where she has distinguished herself as a reporter, columnist, editor and manager. And critically for us at this time, she has shown adeptness at embracing new platforms and engaging and interacting with readers in real time online, in print and in person."[6] Unlike previous public editors of The New York Times, Sullivan signed on for four years.[6]

In December 2015, Sullivan announced that she was not renewing her contract with The Times. Sullivan stated that "The role really requires an outsider's perspective, so I've thought all along that having a clear time limit serves The Times and its readers best."[12]

Her tenure was celebrated by both journalists and readers. "Her tenure accomplished many things, most importantly the potential of web-based media reporting and criticism to combat the media establishment's groupthink," Eric Alterman observed.[13]

Washington Post[edit]

In February 2016, it was announced that when Sullivan left The Times, she would be joining The Washington Post as its media columnist.[14] Arthur Sulzberger Jr., The Times's publisher, praised Sullivan in a memo to staff stating that she had "ushered the position into a new age." Her first column in The Washington Post ran on May 22, 2016. On August 10, 2022, Sullivan announced her departure in memo to staff, calling it a "self-imposed term limit".[15][16] On the same day, Duke University named Sullivan as their 2023 Egan Visiting professor.[17] Sullivan's final column for The Post was published on August 21, 2022.[18]

The Guardian[edit]

Since January 2023, Sullivan has been a media, politics, and culture columnist for The Guardian US.[19]

Columbia University[edit]

Sullivan will begin her role as executive director for the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at Columbia University on Jan. 1, 2024. She has also previously taught Audience and Engagement courses at Columbia. [20]


In 2020, Sullivan was awarded the Mirror Award for her Post article on the media coverage of Donald Trump's first impeachment.[21][22] The same year she won the Penn State University Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism. [23] She also won the 2023 AEJMC First Amendment Award in 2023. [24]


  1. ^ "Margaret Sullivan joining Columbia Journalism School as Executive Director of the Newmark Center". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  2. ^ Paul, Pamela (September 7, 2014). "Margaret Sullivan: By the Book". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  3. ^ "Elaine Sullivan Dies; Was Buyer, Teacher, Lackawanna Civic Leader," Buffalo News, June 2, 1987, p. 4.
  4. ^ "Sullivan is Named Editor of the News".
  5. ^ "El-Lozi Lecture Brings National Journalists to Campus". Georgetown College. April 9, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Pompeo, Joe (July 16, 2012). "'New York Times' names new public editor". Capital New York. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  7. ^ "Buffalo News editor Margaret M. Sullivan to be next New York Times public editor". Poynter. July 16, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  8. ^ Hontz, Jenny (2003). "Making Headlines". Northwestern University. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "About The Public Editor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "Ghosting the News". Columbia Global Reports. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  11. ^ "Book Review: Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life by Margaret Sullivan". May 27, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  12. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (December 19, 2015). "NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan will depart in 2016". Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Alterman, Eric (April 24, 2017). "Margaret Sullivan Made 'The New York Times' Better—and We All Benefited". The Nation.
  14. ^ Ember, Sydney (February 22, 2016). "Margaret Sullivan, New York Times Public Editor, Joining Washington Post". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  15. ^ Darcy, Oliver (August 10, 2022). "Media critic Margaret Sullivan to depart The Washington Post". CNN Business. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  16. ^ Klein, Charlotte (August 10, 2022). ""CALL IT A SELF-IMPOSED TERM LIMIT": WHY MEDIA CRITIC MARGARET SULLIVAN IS EXITING THE WASHINGTON POST". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  17. ^ "Margaret Sullivan to Serve as the 2023 Egan Visiting Professor" (Press release). Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  18. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (August 21, 2022). "My final column: 2024 and the dangers ahead". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  19. ^ Guardian News & Media Press Office (January 25, 2023). "Guardian US announces Margaret Sullivan as new weekly columnist". The Guardian. Retrieved September 19, 2023.
  20. ^ "Margaret Sullivan joining Columbia Journalism School as Executive Director of the Newmark Center". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  21. ^ Loughlin, Wendy S. (June 12, 2020). "Newhouse School Announces Winners in the 2020 Mirror Awards Competition". SU News. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  22. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (December 21, 2019). "Perspective: The two big flaws of the media's impeachment coverage — and what went right". Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  23. ^ "Washington Post's Sullivan earns Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  24. ^ "AEJMC Award Recipients". Retrieved December 6, 2023.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Arthur S. Brisbane
Public Editor for The New York Times
Succeeded by