Two Appreciations: Neal Conan, Timothy Noah

A broadcaster and a writer who have done excellent work and are now in search of new homes

The journalism world is a scene of unending flux, but I was particularly sorry to hear of upheaval that affects two of my DC-based colleagues, Neal Conan and Timothy Noah.

Conan_Neal.jpgFor the past 11-plus years, Neal Conan has been the urbane, omni-informed, unflappable, approachable host of NPR's show Talk of the Nation. The TOTN program had been running for a decade before that, with a range of skilled hosts including John Hockenberry (now of The Takeaway) and Ray Suarez (now of the PBS NewsHour). But Conan really made the show his own through what turns out to be its final run. NPR announced last week that it would replace the show with "Here and Now," out of WBUR in Boston. I like that show a lot too, but it is worth noting how good a job, and over a sustained period, Conan and his team have done. My thanks to them -- for the handful of times I was on the show as a guest, and the many many times I enjoyed it as a listener.

TimNoah.pngSince 2011, Timothy Noah has written the TRB column at the New Republic. Before that he was a stalwart at Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the NYT, and at US News when I worked there (and when we became good friends). Last year he published an excellent book, The Great Divergence, on attempts to explain -- and offset -- the ever-growing economic polarization that underlies our other political problems. Last week he learned that his column no longer "fit" the emerging direction of the New Republic under its new owner. You can get a look at his final TRB column here. It is a typically clear-headed essay that explains why one fast-spreading political catch-phrase, the idea that "welfare" costs are driving everything else in federal spending, is wrong.

Another part of the endless-flux, itinerant-labor nature of the journalistic life is that people find new outlets for their work. I look forward to that stage for both Conan and Noah, so as to keep hearing and reading their interpretations of what matters in the world. (Photo sources: Conan, Noah.)
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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