Joseph Kahn edited his high school’s paper and went on to serve as president of Harvard’s undergraduate daily, The Crimson, before graduating in 1987 with a degree in history. He briefly covered Plano, Texas, for The Dallas Morning News. But inspired by a professor’s observation that China could be the great story of the next decade, Mr. Kahn re-enrolled at Harvard in a master’s program for East Asian studies and began learning Mandarin.
By 1989, he was writing freelance articles from Beijing for The Morning News. After covering the Tiananmen Square protests, he persuaded his editors in Dallas to keep him in China as a correspondent. His reporting was not without risks: He was detained by the Chinese authorities at one point and ordered to leave the country. In 1994, he shared in a Pulitzer Prize awarded to The Morning News for international reporting.
By then, Mr. Kahn had been hired by The Wall Street Journal, where he was assigned to Shanghai. After a stint as the editor and publisher of The Far Eastern Economic Review, a now-defunct weekly owned by The Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones, Mr. Kahn jumped to The Times in 1998.
He covered Wall Street and economics before moving back to Shanghai; in 2003, he became the paper’s Beijing bureau chief. He spent the next five years in China, sharing another Pulitzer, in 2006, with the Times correspondent Jim Yardley for an investigation into China’s flawed legal system.
Mr. Kahn returned to New York in 2008 as a deputy foreign editor and was appointed international editor in 2011. The next year, he was part of the team of editors who decided to publish a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, led by the Business desk, into the hidden wealth of China’s ruling elite, prompting the Chinese authorities to block access to The Times’s website.
In elevating Mr. Kahn to managing editor, Mr. Baquet described his charge in bold terms: “to lead our efforts to build The Times of the future, and to grapple with questions of what we cover going forward.”
In recent remarks at an internal Times gathering, Mr. Kahn laid out some priorities.
He cited maintaining editorial independence in an age of polarization. He reiterated a commitment to build a work force that represented diversity of thought, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds. And he charted an ambitious path for The Times’s place in the news business, saying the paper should consider itself a direct competitor to dozens of news outlets, ranging from global television networks like CNN and the BBC to niche upstarts like The Marshall Project and The Information.