A Young Man in a Hurry

Propelled by privilege, talent, and ambition, Joseph Kahn’s path to leading The New York Times ran through elite enclaves in Harvard and China where he fit in comfortably with the media’s future power elite

Joe Kahn started running after his father when he was five or six years old. Most mornings, Leo Kahn would leave their home outside Boston around 5:30 a.m. to run laps at the local high school track. “Once or twice, I would ask to go with him, but it was kind of early,” Kahn, who last week was named the next executive editor of The New York Times, told The Fine Print. The runs were a rare opportunity for him to spend time with his father, who was often too busy building a supermarket empire to see his family. “He usually came back fairly late at night. We rarely in those days had dinner with him,” he recalled. “When we were very young, we didn’t really take vacations together. He didn’t take vacations.” So the young Kahn woke himself up early to join the old man and ran downstairs to try to catch him, but his father was gone. “I missed him, and he was driving away,” he remembered. The track was about a mile and a half away, and the little boy took off on his own. “I ran through a bunch of backyards toward our local high school,” he said, “and surprised him by joining him on the track belatedly.”

Father and son regularly ran together until Kahn was ten when his mother died of breast cancer, and they gave up the ritual. The son then withdrew into himself. “I became a little bit more inward-looking, and maybe a bit more self-sufficient emotionally as a result, as a little bit of a protective thing. The natural thing as a kid, when something terrible happens, is to sort of persuade yourself and people around you that you’re fine — you’re fine,” he said. “And you are very resilient as a kid, right? On the one hand, you recognize the shock of something, but you just have a more pliable mind and emotional structure at that time, and you’re more easily distracted. So in some ways, you can sort of persuade yourself that you’re fine. But I think that you do build up — I did build up, anyway — a bit of a protective layer.” In the years that followed, he developed a reputation for aloofness and quietness. “I don’t know that there was a single moment where I suddenly had a reckoning that I needed to have a more frontal confrontation with my ghosts,” he said. It was more a gradual dawning awareness of his missed emotional processing.

The father, meanwhile, remarried and started training for marathons. He started making an effort to spend more time with his son, but he also sent him to private schools in the vicinity of Boston, first a day school and then a boarding school. In those environs, Kahn began to find his place in what former New York Timesreporter David Halberstam described in his 1972 book The Best and the Brightest as “a special elite, a certain breed of men whose continuity is among themselves. They are linked to one another rather than to the country; in their minds they become responsible for the country but not responsive to it.” Throughout Kahn’s career, he would find his greatest successes in elite enclaves, even in the most far-off locales. Along the way, he found himself surrounded by others who were following neatly proscribed paths to America’s most powerful media institutions.

It wasn’t that he was always a ruthless careerist — even when passion caused him to aim lower than the top of a hierarchy, people in power recognized him as one of their own and elevated him beyond his more modest ambitions. Ultimately, his trajectory landed him at the top of American journalism, on the brink of taking over the newsroom of The New York Times from Dean Baquet when his appointment takes effect on June 14. “To make it in America, to rise, there has to be some sort of propellant,” Halberstam wrote. “Sheer talent helps, but except in very rare instances, talent is not enough. Money helps, family ties, and connections help.” And Kahn had plenty of all of the above to ease his ascent.

For college, Kahn didn’t run far from home. He went to Harvard, where his father had gone before him and endowed two professorships. In the late winter of his freshman year, around the time his father sold his supermarket chain for just under $80 million, he joined The Crimson. In February 1986, the year his father opened the first Staples store, he became president of the paper without really trying to. In the “turkey shoot,” the annual ritual in which Crimson staffers run for positions on the paper’s executive board that former Crimson reporter Philip Weiss once calledLord of the Flies-meets-Eton,” Kahn was shooting to become managing editor for news. “When I thought about it, what I really wanted to do was run the news report,” he recalled. “The president job was the top job, and you’re kind of the editor-in-chief, but you were also the publisher because The Crimson has its own business operation, which is also student-run.” The business side, much more his father’s domain, didn’t appeal to him, so Kahn put down president as his second choice. “Despite the fact that he was such an obviously compelling candidate, he didn’t run for the presidency,” recalled David Hilzenrath, who now works as an investigative reporter at the Project on Government Oversight and did run for the presidency. But the previous board was deadlocked: None of the candidates who most wanted to be president could win over a majority, and Kahn emerged as the compromise.

As president, he replaced Jeff Zucker, the now former president of CNN. Zucker was the son of a cardiologist and a school teacher who had gone to a public school in Florida before arriving at Harvard. “Joe was calm, where Jeff was less so,” recalled Jessica Dorman, who succeeded Kahn as president and is now the director of publications at The Historic New Orleans Collection, “and Joe, I think as a result, whether it would be staff meetings, or meetings of the editorial board, made it a little less about himself.” Another Crimson colleague saw another contrast. “The thing about Joe was he was an incredibly serious person who loved the paper, cared deeply about covering the news,” they said. “Jeff Zucker was also very intense. The difference was Joe was actually a nice guy and a respectful person.”

Still, Zucker had flourished at The Crimson at a time when the paper did little to account for how difficult it was for less wealthy people to succeed within it. Joseph Menn, the executive editor for features under Kahn and now a reporter at The Washington Post, had also come to Harvard from a public school. He recalled that of the 38 members of the executive board that year, “only three of us were on financial aid — and a majority of the student body was on financial aid then — because the time commitment was so extreme. That struck me as really unfair. I was really upset about that.” Over the next year, Kahn and members of the executive board routinely put in 60-hour weeks. “It was kind of our full-time job,” said Kristin Goss, the executive editor for news under Kahn, now a professor at Duke. “School was the thing we did as an extracurricular.”

Even if it hadn’t been his first choice, Kahn took his presidency seriously as the first step in a long path. “He had New York Times aspirations as a student. Most of the best writers at the paper did,” recalled Bruce Kluckhohn, photography chairman on Kahn’s board and now a professional photographer who has shot for Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and GQ. “They would pay attention to former Crim-eds that were writing for The New York Times at the time.” Kahn demonstrated this in an interview with C-SPAN filmed during his presidency. The interviewer quoted a former Crimson president who she identified as “a woman who is now the correspondent for the Tokyo bureau of The New York Times,” and Kahn immediately identified her as “Sue Chira,” the Crimson president in 1979 whose career Kahn’s would closely track. Chira rose to be the international editor of The Times in 2004, and Kahn succeeded her in 2011. Then, in 2016 — 30 years after his Crimson presidency and 37 years after hers — Kahn would beat her out for the managing editorship of The Times, and Chira would later depart in 2019 to be the editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project. “In some ways, running The New York Times seemed like the goal from day one,” said Kluckhohn.

The only time anyone recalled Kahn losing his cool as Crimson president was when the sports section published the headline “Harvard Fuchs Up,” a pun on a player’s name. (The headline doesn’t survive in the paper’s digital archive, but two members of the sports section independently recalled the exact wording.) “Joe was just as mad as could be. I’d never seen him show emotion like that before. I remember him closing the door to his office with the editor who was responsible for the headline and yelling, cursing, screaming at ’em. He was upset at ‘Harvard Fuchs Up,’ but he was using a lot of F words that day,” said Casey Lartigue, then a sports reporter on The Crimson and now the co-president of a nonprofit supporting North Korean refugees. “I remember him explaining to the editor, ‘You can’t do this to the paper. We have to be professional’ — that’s the cleaned up version — ‘we have to be professional in the way we present ourselves.’” The editor responsible was Jessica Dorman. “I just remember him sitting me down, maybe me and my co-sports editor at the time, just being like, ‘That is so not appropriate.’ I was like, ‘but it was funny,’” she said. “Joe at his least composed was still more composed than virtually anyone else I can think of.”

But he wasn’t always so humorless. “Joe took serious things seriously, but he never took himself too seriously,” said Hilzenrath. “When he was inducted into a campus literary society, the Signet Society, the tradition was that new members would read aloud from a piece of literature of their own choosing, presumably something of personal significance. As far as I could tell, it was an invitation to pretension. Joe read Dr. Seuss.” Kahn couldn’t precisely recall the book he read, but he was pretty sure it was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “It was a little bit of a pretentious ritual,” he said. “It was a little bit of participating in the spirit of it while also having a little bit of fun.” He added, “by the way, Dr. Seuss was actually quite ingenious and poetic.”

In the C-SPAN interview, Kahn wavered on his long-term commitment to journalism. “I hope to try my hand at print journalism for some time. I won’t be happy until I do,” he said. “I’m not sure that that’s what I want to do for a career, but I do want to try it.” After meeting Robert Decherd, another former Crimson president, through the alumni network, he got his chance. Decherd, who became the CEO of the A.H. Belo Corporation which owned The Dallas Morning News in 1987, was then in the midst of a fierce war with the city’s other daily paper. “We needed people of Joe’s intelligence and journalistic abilities to create a news product consistently that was distinguished and, frankly, better than the Dallas Times Herald, which was our principal competition at the time,” Decherd said.

Kahn joined The Morning News after his graduation in 1987 as a city reporter covering Plano. He wasn’t a complete anomaly among the staff. “The Dallas Morning News liked Ivy League kids, particularly on their city desk,” said Kerry Gunnels, then an editor on the international desk who was later part of the team at the paper with which Kahn won his first Pulitzer in 1994. But he was pretty out of place. “He looked like he was about 12 years old,” Gunnels said. “His reputation was being kind of aloof and standoffish in the sense that he was — which is ironic, since we’re talking — destined for bigger and better places than The Dallas Morning News.”

Kahn didn’t fit in with some of the older reporters on the city desk. “He wasn’t a normal young 20s person who wanted to party with everybody on the weekends and do all that kind of stuff. He was a real keep-to-himself kind of guy,” recalled Marice Richter, who was then also a city reporter. Even the higher-ups noticed that from afar. “I had a little group I called my all-serious team and Joe was definitely on it,” said then deputy managing editor Robert Mong, who is now president of the University of North Texas at Dallas, “but they were all great reporters.”

A well-circulated anecdote about Kahn at The Dallas Morning News involved a dinner he attended with other junior staff at a Mexican restaurant. “In this restaurant, they served the salsa in little individual cups, one in front of everybody,” runs the version Gunnels tells. “So Joe immediately gets a spoon and pulls his salsa up and starts eating it. Everybody around the table exchanges glances, like, ‘What the fuck?’ But nobody says anything, which is instructive, I think. Nobody says anything. Joe finishes the salsa, pushes it away, and says, ‘Damn! That gazpacho was really spicy.’”

Kahn acknowledged there might be a grain of truth in the story. “There was an incident at one point where there was a big bowl of salsa, and I think I might have asked, ‘Is that gazpacho or is that salsa?’ I forget which one,” he recalled. “With all the Texans there, it was like, ‘Wow, this guy’s really from the Northeast. He really doesn’t get what’s going on here.’ And so there was a lot of gentle ribbing of that kind. They didn’t have a lot of people coming fresh from Boston out of Harvard University to work on the staff there.”

An awareness of Kahn’s family wealth has shadowed him throughout his career, but he believes it had its biggest impact at The Morning News. “If I had a lot of student debt coming out of college, it would have probably been harder to have gone into a job like metro reporter at a regional newspaper that, in those days, really didn’t pay a lot of money. Parental support obviously gives you more options in your selection of career than if you took on a ton of debt or otherwise had that kind of burden, or there were relatives who you were trying to support,” he said. “The salary I was making, I think I could barely pay rent in Dallas.” Though others noticed what they saw as the influence of his family’s money later, he didn’t. “I think once I got started in journalism, it doesn’t really feel that relevant to me in terms of the career choices,” he said. “My family — my father — really, really didn’t have anything to do with my career after that.”

Kahn saw his Texas sojourn as an adventure. “I was fresh and eager and wanted to take on basically any kind of story and they were all interesting because they were infused with a different cultural and political sensibility. But I didn’t know a lot of people there, so I kind of went there largely on my own,” he said. “It wasn’t like getting a job in New York or Washington, DC, where I would have been embedded with a bunch of college friends or relatives or whatever. I was really out there on my own, but I enjoyed it and learned a lot.”

Despite his cultural discordance, upper management saw Kahn and Kevin Merida, who was then a reporter at the paper and is now the executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, as people who would go particularly far. “If somebody had told me, Joe would be on the precipice of being the editor of The New York Times, I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised, because he really had the tools. And I wouldn’t have been surprised by Kevin Merida, because he had so many people skills, he was a great reporter, people love to talk to him, and he just had a nice way about him,” Mong said. “It really didn’t surprise me that they soared in the profession.” When Kahn decided to go back to Harvard for a master’s in East Asian studies, Decherd made it a priority to ensure that his ties with The Morning News would hold. “We wanted him back,” he said. “That was arranged before he went.”

There was a mercenary aspect to Kahn’s decision to study China. “When I was in college, there were still some people learning Russian because they thought maybe they wanted to be journalists, or maybe they wanted to work for the U.S. government, or maybe they just thought the Cold War would go on and be critically important,” Menn said. “He was one of the earliest to say, ‘That’s not where the big issue is going to be. The big global issue is going to be U.S. v. China.’ So that was a very good call on his part.”

Reporters who were already in Asia saw that, too. “At the time of Tiananmen Square in 1989, most news organizations had one reporter in Beijing, if they had a reporter in Beijing at all. The television networks would choose between Beijing, Hong Kong, and Tokyo if they had somebody in Asia,” said Marcus Brauchli, who was then a reporter in Tokyo for The Wall Street Journal and would go on to be the top editor of The Journal and then The Washington Post. “Choosing to go to China showed an awareness of the shift in geopolitical weight towards Asia and in particular towards China.” The Times echoed this logic in the biographical article they published in concert with the announcement of Kahn’s appointment as executive editor. “Mr. Kahn reasoned that China, not the pivotal power it is today, gave him a better chance to stand out,” wrote Michael Grynbaum.

The decision to give up a job to go to grad school also spoke to the sorts of options his family wealth created. “I remember being jealous that he could afford to quit his job and go to school to learn Chinese,” Menn said. “That’s not something I was ever in a position to do.” However, there’s no denying that when Kahn saw opportunities, he seized on them, even when that ultimately led to trouble. “That’s the way of the world, and he worked hard at it.” That freedom also allowed him to step away from his studies in the spring of 1989, fly to Beijing when the protests in Tiananmen Square seemed to promise an eruption, and report for The Dallas Morning News.

“When he went to China for us, I had very low expectations,” Gunnels said. “I hadn’t seen anything that distinguished him as being a star or rising star or anything like that.” But Kahn’s work on Tiananmen spoke for itself. “He did a great job,” Gunnels said of Kahn’s reporting on China for the paper. “He impressed a lot of folks.” Jon Moses, who had worked under Kahn at The Crimson and now co-chairs the litigation department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, covered Tiananmen with Kahn as a stringer for The Washington Post. “I was living in the bureau, and Joe was staying nearby. We would go out together covering that story. Joe spoke relatively good Chinese,” he recalled. Their reporting took them beyond the square, looking for the impact of the protests in the countryside. “We had gone together to a village outside of Beijing just before [the massacre], and there was some pro-student energy in the town at the time.” Back at Tiananmen Square, Kahn and Moses lost track of each other amidst the chaos of the government crackdown. “I managed to get myself arrested,” Moses said. Kahn returned to the village, and the mood had changed. He was reported to the security apparatus and detained. Both Moses and Kahn were forced to sign confessions, and Kahn was ordered to leave the country.

Back in Cambridge, Kahn resumed his studies with a new intensity of focus. “He wanted to pursue a deeper study of the country that he reported on,” said his then roommate Yasheng Huang, now a professor of global economics and management at MIT. Many of their discussions at the time centered on Chinese politics after Tiananmen. “Among the Chinese students, and I was a Chinese student then, we were more focused on economic aspects, and I think Joe was more focused on political aspects,” Huang said. “It turns out, and that’s my current belief as well, that the political aspects are actually, I wouldn’t say more important than the economic aspects, but are more important than many of us assumed that they were. So I think Joe always had that insight and interest.”

After receiving his master’s degree in 1990, Kahn made his way back to Hong Kong to report for The Morning News, where he contributed to a series on violence against women around the world that won the paper a Pulitzer. “He wasn’t a full-time employee, but he was working very much for us on an ongoing basis,” said Lennox Samuels, then an assistant managing editor for international. “We sort of dropped the ball on that it turned out, because soon other newspapers — read The Wall Street Journal — came tapping on his shoulder, and then we made a scramble to bring him on staff full time, but at that juncture it was a bit too little too late.”

The Journal came calling in the form of Brauchli, who got to know Kahn in Hong Kong in 1992 and started traveling around Asia with him. In 1993, they both went to Cambodia to cover U.N.-supervised elections following a peace treaty with Vietnam. “We spent a lot of time together there, driving all over the country, listening to Bob Geldof tapes,” Brauchli recalled. “Right after that, I was talking to the foreign editor of The Journal, lobbying to build up a China team.” They decided to open their first bureau in Shanghai. “The Chinese had not allowed Americans to have people in Shanghai since the Communists came to power in 1949,” Brauchli said. “I think one of the last journalists to cover Shanghai was probably Seymour Topping, who later became managing editor of The New York Times.” The Journal got permission to open a bureau in the city. “So we hired Joe,” Brauchli said. “I think he was the first American journalist stationed in Shanghai since the Communists came to power.”

The Journal added other correspondents across the country: Kathy Chen in Beijing and Craig Smith in Hong Kong. Brauchli flitted between the three cities as China bureau chief, settling in Shanghai in 1995. “I wanted us to think of the whole China story differently. In that respect, Joe was the perfect correspondent,” Brauchli said. “He’s the kind of journalist who always tries to imagine the story that other people haven’t thought of, and tries to anticipate where the trends are headed, rather than simply doing the story everybody else has done. Being in Shanghai sort of freed your mind to do that.” Because the city had only just started letting in American journalists, there were fewer structures in place to keep them under control. “Journalists in Beijing were more closely watched. There was a whole state security bureau apparatus for that,” Brauchli said. “Shanghai, in those days, was as much a free-for-all economy as a free-market economy.”

Over the next couple of years, a small community of western correspondents began to bloom in the city. Kahn had found a tribe that suited him perfectly. “For many of us Americans who were interested in China back in the 1980s and ’90s, the common thread is that we were the kind of people who wanted to really go far away, both in terms of culture and in terms of distance,” said Seth Faison, who came to Shanghai in 1995 as the bureau chief for The New York Times. “We felt like we were part of the vanguard, exploring territory that had not been opened before.”

Outside of work, the American journalists essentially lived as a pack. Many lived in The Gascogne Apartments, a building in the old French concession built in the ’30s, which featured tall ceilings, wood floors, Art Deco porthole windows, curved walls, and thorough secret surveillance. “They steered us foreign correspondents to live in that building, partly because it was at a superior standard, but partly because they would want to monitor us carefully. So we assumed that the premises were well-bugged and that the guards at the door would keep track of who was coming and going,” said Faison. “I’m pretty sure the phones that were plugged into the wall went straight down to a tape recording device,” said Brauchli.

During the day, Kahn zoomed around town with his driver — Brauchli recalled it was in a Toyota Kahn had imported, which stood out in a sea of Shanghai-made Volkswagens — and after work, he would meet up with the other journalists. “You’d end up going to the same places every single night,” Brauchli said. For dinner, they’d circulate through a restaurant in a converted Russian Orthodox Church and The Village, run by a Shanghainese-American woman. For bars, there was Judy’s, which was downstairs in the People’s Armed Police building, and an establishment in the Shanghai Center where The Journal, The Times, and The Financial Times all had their offices. It had “a small bar scene every night, and people would go play cards or liar’s dice,” Brauchli said. “Joe is a very good poker player. He gives away nothing. He’s very competitive.” They hung around together so much in part because there was so much to process. “I spent a lot of time with him at journalist dinners,” Faison recalled. “There was a lot to make fun of trying to cover China in those days, and there was a lot of laughter. Joe has a very incisive, cutting sense of humor.”

This idyll came to an end for Kahn in 1996. “Joe decided to write a funny feature story about how China invented everything, at least according to some nationalists. Noodles, of course. Paper. Writing because they have oracle bones. You can find these ancient images that they say show they invented golf. China uses chopsticks, but they said they came up with chopsticks only after inventing forks and realizing they weren’t nearly as good as chopsticks. It was a perfect Journal A-hed,” recalled Brauchli, referring to the paper’s renowned front-page feature franchise. “So, Joe goes to Gansu in western China. I know where he is, but there aren’t mobile phones at that point.” Brauchli called around the hotels in town but couldn’t find Kahn. Then he got a call. 

“Joe says, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch.’ I said, ‘Well, where are you?’ He said, ‘I’m in London.’ I said, ‘Oh, I thought you were going to the western part of China. I didn’t know you were going to Western Europe.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry, I wasn’t allowed to call you.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Well, Karen Elliott House,’ who by then had become the vice president for international at Dow Jones, ‘called me and asked me to interview to be the next editor and publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review.’”

The interview had gone very well. “He came to me and said that they had just contacted him and wanted him to be the editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and what did I think about it?” recalled James McGregor, then the CEO of Dow Jones China. “He was worried. He’s like, ‘What are the politics? How do I deal with this? Is it going to be boring or political? Will I be doing administration or news?’ He was trying to think it through.” McGregor was encouraging. “I remember saying, ‘Yeah, you got to do it. It’ll be very good for the magazine and it’s very logical step and a big step up for you.’”

In time, Kahn would come to see accepting the job as something of a misstep. “In hindsight, if someone offered me a role like that, that I really didn’t understand the contours to, I might not do it,” he said. But as it happened, Kahn took the job and moved to Hong Kong. “It was a big promotion. A really big deal,” Brauchli said. “So I wrote him a letter firing him, saying, ‘I sent you on an assignment, you were out of touch, you didn’t communicate where you were,’ knowing full well that he’d been getting this significant promotion within the Dow Jones hierarchy. It was pretty funny. I think he had it framed.”

The Far Eastern Economic Review was an unusual publication, founded in Shanghai in 1946 by Eric Halpern, an Austrian Jewish emigré who favored wearing a Burmese longyi to the office, that grew into one of the leading English-language publications in Asia. When Kahn took over as publisher and editor, there were still remnants of the piratical spirit that its later British-born editors Derek Davies and Philip Bowring had cultivated before Dow Jones’s takeover in 1987. “Sometimes, the magazine would have brilliant insights into the complicated politics of Malaysia or Cambodia or Thailand. Other times, there’d be a 4,000-word screed on some crop being grown in some country,” McGregor said. “It was an intellectual publication that was also grassroots and had this wonderful collection of brilliant, quirky, eccentric, and often heavy drinking journalists.”

Kahn walked into it aged 32. “I don’t think it was a very good fit for me,” he said. “That was another slightly unusual job where they constructed the roles so that you were both editor and publisher, but it wasn’t a student newspaper. It was a professional organization that had an advertising staff and a circulation staff and an events business, but it also had a newsroom. And none of those operations within the Far Eastern Economic Review were particularly eager to have a relatively young person from The Wall Street Journalcome in and be their boss. It was ill-fated from the start.”

After three months, Dow Jones relieved Kahn of the post and transferred him back to The Journal’s China bureau. “You can’t expect somebody to take an important job in a highly public way and then, after a few months, say it’s not working out, send them back and expect them to just carry on,” said Brauchli. “I thought it was deeply unfair to Joe and probably a little embarrassing, although I don’t think he ever would have put it that way. Ultimately it deprived The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones of a supremely talented journalist.”

Kahn stayed in Hong Kong, covering Britain’s handover of the city to China on July 1, 1997, but he couldn’t muster the old excitement. “It just didn’t feel as much fun or fully engaging to me as it had when I had more run of the space on mainland China,” he said. It was in this uncertain period that The New York Timesapproached him about coming to work for them. “I really wasn’t at all certain then that I wanted to leave The Wall Street Journal,” he said. “When there was a firm offer from The Times, The Journal made an attractive counteroffer, and I really seriously considered staying. In fact, I think at one point, I told The Times I was going to stay and thanked them for the offer.” But The Times persisted in courting him, and eventually, he gave in. “I said, ‘You know what? I think it’d be an interesting new adventure, I should give it a try,’” he recalled.

Kahn joined The New York Times in 1998. Twenty-four years later, after the announcement of his appointment to the executive editorship, he quickly dispatched a question about when he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his career there. “By the time I did come here, I was focused on a career in journalism for sure. The Times is, as you know — then, but also now — pretty close to the top of the food chain,” he said. “If you’re interested in being a foreign correspondent, a journalist for a major news organization, there are other options, obviously. But I wasn’t really thinking, ‘What comes after The Times?’ at that point. I was more thinking about how to develop my career here.”

This is the second story in our series on Joseph Kahn’s ascent at The New York Times, starting with his announcement as the next executive editor and concluding with a profile of his career at The Times.