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Michael Slackman sums up his
tenure in the Middle East as
“trying to understand ordinary 
people and explain their interests, 
dreams, and desires.”

That view has roots in
his time as a Northeastern
journalism student in the early
1980s, when, he says, “being
a reporter felt like the chance
to explore how other people
live, how decisions are made, 
a license to question authority, 
the duty to bear witness, and
the means to carry it out.”

It is a journalistic credo to
which Slackman has held fast, 
starting at the Northeastern
(now the Huntington
), where he showed a
talent for digging up tough
stories. He still remembers
the support he received from
Jack Curry, then vice president
for student affairs, and, later,
Northeastern’s fifth president.

Like so many Northeastern
journalism students before and
since, Slackman worked as a
reporter on co-op at the Boston
. “Co-op was phenomenal,”
he says. “I got my first
real understanding of what it was to be a reporter.”

After graduating, he worked
as a police reporter with a local newspaper in Port Chester, 
N.Y. He moved to Long
Island’s Newsday—where he
contributed to reporting that
won a 1997 Pulitzer Prize, and
got his first overseas posting, 
as Moscow bureau chief—and
then became Cairo bureau chief
for the Los Angeles Times.

He was named the New
York Times
’ Cairo bureau chief
in 2005, moved to the position
of Berlin bureau chief in 2010, 
and was appointed deputy
foreign editor in June 2011, 
shaping the paper’s Middle
East coverage.

Although he is at the pinnacle
of American journalism,
Slackman says that was never the pole star for his career. It
was something more basic,
and it comes through in a brief

“I gave a talk recently to
some U.S. military officers—
generals-in-training—and I
started the conversation by
saying ‘We’re both in the business
of defending democracy.’

“It sounds hokey, but I
firmly believe that. Fortunately, 
I landed in a place where they’re still committed to providing
as robust and penetrating news reports as possible
about everything—and I think
that’s pretty cool.”

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