Margaret Sullivan (journalist)

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Margaret Sullivan
Margaret Sullivan Washington Post.jpg
Sullivan in 2016
Margaret M. Sullivan

  • Journalist
  • columnist
  • editor

Margaret M. Sullivan is an American journalist who is the 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.


Sullivan is a native of Lackawanna, New York,[1] and a graduate of Georgetown University.[2] She also holds an M.S.J. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.[3] Sullivan joined The Buffalo News in 1980 as a summer intern, becoming the paper’s first female editor in 1999.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]


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.[5]

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."[3] Unlike previous public editors of The New York Times, Sullivan signed on for four years.[3]

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."[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.


In 2020, Sullivan was awarded the Mirror Award for her Post article on the media coverage of Donald Trump's first impeachment.[10][11]


  1. ^ Paul, Pamela (7 September 2014). "Margaret Sullivan: By the Book". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  2. ^ "El-Lozi Lecture Brings National Journalists to Campus". Georgetown College. 2019-04-09. Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  3. ^ a b c Pompeo, Joe (16 July 2012). "'New York Times' names new public editor". Capital New York. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Buffalo News editor Margaret M. Sullivan to be next New York Times public editor". Poynter. 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  5. ^ a b "About The Public Editor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "Ghosting the News". Columbia Global Reports. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  7. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (December 19, 2015). "NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan will depart in 2016". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  8. ^ Alterman, Eric (2017-04-24). "Margaret Sullivan Made 'The New York Times' Better—and We All Benefited". The Nation.
  9. ^ Ember, Sydney (February 22, 2016). "Margaret Sullivan, New York Times Public Editor, Joining Washington Post". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  10. ^ Loughlin, Wendy S. (June 12, 2020). "Newhouse School Announces Winners in the 2020 Mirror Awards Competition". SU News. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (December 21, 2019). "Perspective: The two big flaws of the media's impeachment coverage — and what went right". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2020.

External links[edit]

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