Mark Whitaker: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Mark Whitaker

Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide

Mark Whitaker the Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide. Whitaker is in charge of directing reporting and editorial content for America’s largest global television network. He was previously the Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News and a reporter and editor at Newsweek, where he rose to become the first African-American leader of a national newsweekly. Whitaker is responsible for leading editorial coverage across CNN’s multiple platforms and directing the overall approach, tone and scope of CNN’s reporting. Whitaker joined CNN on Feb. 14, 2011. He is based in New York and reports to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. Whitaker most recently served as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief for NBC News, succeeding the late Tim Russert in July 2008. In that role, he was responsible for Washington-based programming for NBC and MSNBC, including Meet the Press and the network’s political coverage.

Mark is also the author of My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir that was recently published by Simon and Schuster on October 18, 2011. In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own. His father, “Syl” Whitaker, was the charismatic grandson of slaves who grew up the child of black undertakers from Pittsburgh and went on to become a groundbreaking scholar of Africa. His mother, Jeanne Theis, was a shy World War II refugee from France whose father, a Huguenot pastor, helped hide thousands of Jews from the Nazis and Vichy police. They met in the mid-1950s, when he was a college student and she was his professor, and they carried on a secret romance for more than a year before marrying and having two boys. Eventually they split in a bitter divorce that was followed by decades of unhappiness as his mother coped with self-recrimination and depression while trying to raise her sons by herself, and his father spiraled into an alcoholic descent that destroyed his once meteoric career. Based on extensive interviews and documentary research as well as his own personal recollections and insights, My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search for the factual and emotional truth about a complicated and compelling family, a successful adult’s exploration of how he rose from a turbulent childhood to a groundbreaking career, and, ultimately, a son’s haunting meditation on the nature of love, loss, identity, and forgiveness. “[a] poignant memoir…Whitaker is unsparing in his account of his father’s sins and the scars they inflicted…but the author filters his profile through a rich reflection and understanding. Like Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, Whitaker’s memoir is in many ways an iconic story of the post--civil rights era, one in which transcending racial barriers liberates people to succeed--and fail--in their own peculiar ways.” -- Publishers Weekly.

Before joining NBC in May 2007 as senior vice president, Whitaker was vice president and editor-in-chief of new ventures in the digital division of The Washington Post Company. He was editor of Newsweek from 1998 to 2006, during which time the magazine won more top editorial awards and nominations than at any time in its history, including four National Magazine Awards for coverage of the attacks of September 11, the Iraq War, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the 2004 elections. As editor, Whitaker redesigned Newsweek to emphasize in-depth reporting and diversified opinion columns. Whitaker joined Newsweek in 1981 and wrote and reported for the International section, covering such major stories as the conflicts in Central America, the Soviet Union and the Middle East. He served as business editor from 1987 to 1991, directing coverage of stories including the stock-market crash and the S&L crisis.

Whitaker graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1979. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and served on the editorial board of the Harvard Crimson. Whitaker attended Oxford University’s Balliol College for postgraduate studies as a Marshall Scholar from 1979-1981.

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  • My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir


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