One-Time YDN Cartoonist and Present Foreign Affairs Editor Talks to Future Journalists

April 13, 2012 • Blogs, The World at Yale • Views: 930

By Ifeanyi Awachie:

Jonathan Tepperman gave a talk on April 11th in the boardroom of the Yale Daily News, where he got his start in journalism as a political cartoonist. Tepperman described how after a couple of unfortunate jobs—for example, an internship with the “New York Civil Rights Coalition,” which turned out to be a one-man army—he landed some meaningful gigs that helped jumpstart his career. He was managing editor and director of Eurasia Group, an international political risk consulting firm. He worked under Fareed Zakaria at Foreign Affairs (a bit like the Globalist, but for writers who bright college years are behind them), and described the experience as his “field PhD in international affairs.” He ended up working for Zakaria again as Deputy Editor of Newsweek International. Then, he returned to Foreign Affairs as Managing Editor in 2001.

Jonathan Tepperman, one of the globe's best-connected journalists, really should have written for us during his time here. If only we'd existed. (Courtesy Council on Foreign Relations).

Tepperman spoke mostly about his journey from majoring in English at Yale to attending law school at Oxford to writing for Foreign Affairs, but he also mentioned the ability of Foreign Affairs to reflect and impact American foreign policy. In the 50s, writers reworked a speech by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles on “massive retaliation,” a new military doctrine addressing nuclear warfare, and the article remains the authoritative explanation of the policy. In the 70s, the magazine’s coverage of oil and energy policies warned of the impending oil crisis, though no measures were taken to address the growing issues.  After the Middle East War in 1973 started, Foreign Affairs covered the crisis and its consequences extensively, though that coverage had little impact on national policy.

Today, the magazine covers news in all areas from domestic pop culture to international conflict and American relations with foreign governments. Tepperman attested to the fact that the publication strives to include articles by writers from both sides of the political spectrum in order to provide an unbiased setting for political thought. As Managing Editor, Tepperman gathers news of global importance from sources ranging from policymakers to professors, and he describes his work and the task of Foreign Affairs as a mission to put that news into language the “educated layperson” can understand. In doing so, Tepperman fills one of the most important roles journalism has to offer.

Ifeanyi Awachie ’14 is in Timothy Dwight college. Contact her at

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