Rob Walker (journalist)

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This article is about the writer. For other uses, see Rob Walker (disambiguation).
Rob Walker
Occupation Writer, Reporter
Genre Non-fiction
Notable works Buying In
Letters from New Orleans

Rob Walker is an American author and freelance journalist. He is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and blogger for Design Observer.[1][2] He is also the former "Consumed" columnist for the New York Times Magazine, and coined the word "murketing."[3]


Walker has written for and worked as an editor at such publications as, New York Times Magazine, Money, and The American Lawyer.[4]

Walker's 2005 book, Letters From New Orleans, was compiled from essays emailed "to interested parties" about life in New Orleans, where he lived in the early 2000s.[4] Subjects covered in the book include celebratory gunfire, rich people, religion, the riddle of race relations in our time, robots, fine dining, drunkenness, urban decay, debutantes, the nature of identity, Gennifer Flowers, and mortality. All author proceeds from Letters from New Orleans went to relief organizations such as the Red Cross and others working with victims of Hurricane Katrina.[5]

In 2008, Walker published book exploring themes similar to those in his "Consumed" columns called Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are[6] It was reviewed favorably and received much attention for its discussion of the term ‘’murketing’’ which Walker had coined.[6][7]

Titans of Finance - cover art by Josh Neufeld

Walker has written a number of comic book stories published under the name R. Walker. A collection of his satirical stories of the business world was published in 2001 as Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money & Business.[8] Collaborating with artist Josh Neufeld, Walker tells the tales of Wall Street's most well-known Icaruses. The stories are entirely based on press accounts, with practically no embellishment. Among those profiled are Ronald O. Perelman, Al Dunlap, Mike Vranos, and Victor Niederhoffer. Titans of Finance received a good deal of attention from the mainstream business press, including Fortune Small Business,[9] U.S. News & World Report,[10] Kiplinger's Personal Finance,[11] Money[12] and The New York Times.[13]


Walker has participated in or led a number of artistic projects including the Hypothetical Development Organization[14] which explored renderings of purely hypothetical possibilities for blighted buildings in New Orleans, and Significant Objects, where writers are paired with an interesting object curated by Walker and co-founder Joshua Glenn, about which he or she writes a fictional story, later to be sold on Ebay.[15] The Significant Objects project has been extensively covered in the press, including on NPR's "All Things Considered,"[16] the "Paper Cuts" blog of the New York Times Book Review,[17] the Chicago Tribune,[18] and The Economist online[19] and employed the talents of such writers as Kurt Andersen, Nicholson Baker, William Gibson, Myla Goldberg, Ann Nocenti, Luc Sante, and Colson Whitehead.

Walker also co-founded the Unconsumption Project, which tracks mindful consumption and creative reuse.[20][21] He maintains an email newsletter called NO Notes which continues his dispatches about New Orleans and updates to his exploration of the song St. James Infirmary.[22] He also started the open source journalism project housed on called MLK BLVD which looks at the streets by that name all over the word.[23][24]


The "Consumed" column, which appeared weekly in The New York Times Magazine, examined consumer behavior from a hybrid business-and-anthropology standpoint. Each column discussed a new product or consumer trend. The column began in 2004, and ended in 2011.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Walker is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.[4] A native of Texas, Walker now lives with his wife, photographer and designer Ellen Susan, in Savannah, Georgia.


  • Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (Random House, June 2008) ISBN 1-4000-6391-4
  • Where Were You? (self-published zine, 2007–present)
  • Letters From New Orleans (Garrett County Press, 2005) ISBN 1-891053-01-9
  • Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money & Business (with artist Josh Neufeld) (Alternative Comics, 2001) ISBN 978-1-891867-05-7



  1. ^ New York Times Magazine masthead, accessed September 29, 2011
  2. ^ Announcement: Rob Walker Joins Design Observer, by The Editors, June 6, 2011
  3. ^ `Murketing' to Hipsters Saves Pabst, Boosts Apple: Book Review by Carly Berwick - June 25, 2008
  4. ^ a b c "The Anti-Consumerist" The Alcalde, by David Menconi
  5. ^ "'Letters From New Orleans': Before the Flood", by Kate Sekules, New York Times Book Review, October 23, 2005. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Branded", review of Buying In by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times Sunday Book Review, July 27, 2008.
  7. ^ [1] Salon Book Awards 2008], by Laura Miller,
  8. ^ Alternative Comics, ISBN 1-891867-05-9
  9. ^ Gilman, Hank. "Editor's Notes," Fortune Small Business (Feb. 2002).
  10. ^ Pethokoukis, James M. "Corporate comics: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a . . . flying CEO?" U.S News & World Report (Sept. 2001).
  11. ^ Sean O'Neill, "Comedy of Errors," Kiplinger's Personal Finance (Sept. 2001),
  12. ^ Kurson, Ken. "CEOs as Comic Heroes," Money (June 2001).
  13. ^ McGeehan, Patrick, "Private Sector; Dumbed Down on Wall St.: Junk Finance, With Pictures," New York Times (June 3, 2001).
  14. ^ Urban Hypotheticals by Geoff Manaugh, BLDG BLOG
  15. ^ About the Significant Objects Project. Significant Objects. Accessed April 6, 2010.
  16. ^ Simmons-Duffin, Selena. "A Doll with a Story," "All Things Considered" (Dec. 20, 2009).
  17. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer. "A Literary Garage Sale," Paper Cuts (July 14, 2009).
  18. ^ Borelli, Christopher. "An Inexpensive Object can be Worth a Lot if it Carries a Good Story," Chicago Tribune (Sept. 8, 2009).
  19. ^ Ramchandani, Ariel. "The Q&A: Rob Walker, Consumer, Thingamabob Connoisseur," More Intelligent Life: The Economist's blog. Accessed April 6, 2010.
  20. ^ Unconsumption, New Hampshire Public Radio, by Virginia Prescott
  21. ^
  22. ^ "NO Notes". Regarding “St. James Infirmary” and other things related to the book “Letters From New Orleans”
  23. ^ Photos: Martin Luther King Boulevards Around the USA, by Xeni Jardin BoingBoing
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ Fun Stuffl, by Rob Walker, The New York Times Magazine, February 11, 2011


External links[edit]