Nicholas Lemann
Lemann at the 2006 Texas Book Festival
BornNicholas Berthelot Lemann
EducationMetairie Park Country Day School
Alma materHarvard University

Nicholas Berthelot Lemann is the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[1] He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999.[2]

Early life

Nicholas Lemann was born, raised, and educated in a Jewish family[3] in New Orleans. He describes his family's faith as a "kind of super-Reform Judaism" where there were "no kosher laws, no bar mitzvahs, no tallit, no kippot".[4]


Lemann was educated at Metairie Park Country Day School,[5] a private school in New Orleans, from which he graduated in 1972, followed by Harvard University, where he studied American history and literature, and was president of The Harvard Crimson, where he wrote the Brass Tacks column, and from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1976.[5]

Life and career

Lemann began his journalism career as a 17-year-old writer for an alternative weekly, the Vieux Carre Courier, in his home city of New Orleans. In 1975, amid reports of mass murder in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, Lemann wrote, "I continue to support the Khmer Rouge in its principles and goals but I have to admit that I deplore the way they are going about it."[6] After graduation, he worked at the Washington Monthly, as an associate editor and then managing editor; at Texas Monthly, as an associate editor and then executive editor; at The Washington Post, as a member of the national staff; at The Atlantic Monthly, as national correspondent; and at The New Yorker, as staff writer and then Washington correspondent.

On September 1, 2003, Lemann became dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.[7] During Lemann's time as dean, the Journalism School launched and completed its first capital fundraising campaign, added 20 members to its full-time faculty, built a student center, started its first new professional degree program since the 1930s, and launched initiatives in investigative reporting, digital journalism, executive leadership for news organizations, and other areas.[8] He stepped down as dean in 2013, following two five-year terms.[9]

In 2015, Lemann launched Columbia Global Reports, a university-funded publishing imprint that produces four to six ambitious works of journalism and analysis a year, each on a different underreported story in the world.[10]

Lemann has published five books, including Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream (2019), Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (2006); The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (1999); and The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1991), which won several book prizes. He has written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and Slate; worked in documentary television with Blackside, Inc., Frontline, the Discovery Channel, and the BBC; and lectured at many universities.

Lemann serves on the boards of directors of the Authors Guild, the National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and the Academy of Political Science, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2010.[8]


Lemann has been married twice. His first wife was Dominique Alice Browning, who later became an editor in chief of House & Garden until 2007; they married on May 20, 1983,[11] have two sons, Alexander and Theodore, and later divorced. His second wife is Judith Anne Shulevitz, who was a columnist for Slate The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic and the cousin of noted independent filmmaker Robert Shulevitz;[12] married on November 7, 1999,[13] they have a son and a daughter.[14]



Essays and reporting



  1. ^ "Nicholas Lemann". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19.
  2. ^ "Nicholas Lemann - The New Yorker". The New Yorker. 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ Nicholas Lemann. "Nicholas Lemann: Growing Up Jewish in the American South - Big Think". Big Think.
  4. ^ Seth Berkman (April 24, 2013). "Nicholas Lemann Talks About Journalism's Hazy Future". Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Metairie Park Country Day — Nicholas Lemann 1972". Metairie Park Country Day School. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  6. ^ Lemann, Nick. "Cambodia and Crimson Politics | News | The Harvard Crimson".
  7. ^ Karen W. Arenson (April 16, 2003). "Columbia Names Dean for its Journalism School". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Profile Archived 2013-12-11 at the Wayback Machine at Columbia Journalism School.
  9. ^ Haughney, Christine (October 9, 2012). "Lemann to Step Down as Dean of Journalism School at Columbia". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Murtha, Jack (September 22, 2015). "Could a university be the savior longform journalism has been looking for?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved January 2, 2021. The university-funded publisher aims to produce novella-length narratives, sprinkled with analysis, on underreported stories rooted in globalization...Unlike most traditional book publishers (but like high-end magazines), Columbia Global Reports fact checks, pays writers’ expenses, and has a total production time, from signed contract to store shelves, that’s measured in months, not years
  11. ^ "Dominique A. Browning Marries Nicholas Lemann". New York Times. 1983-05-21.
  12. ^{[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Judith Shulevitz, Nicholas Lemann". New York Times. November 7, 1999.
  14. ^ Anne Stuart (Sep–Oct 2005). "The Press Professor". Harvard Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-12-01.
  15. ^ Lemann, Nicholas (1991). The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America. New York: A.A. Knopf.
  16. ^ Lemann, Nicholas (1999). The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  17. ^ ISBN 978-0-374-24855-0
  18. ^ Lemann, Nicholas (2019). Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.