- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
It’s probably not the most important thing in the world. But I feel duty-bound to point out that the new bio for Secretary of State John Kerry, posted this afternoon on the department’s website, needs work.
Two parts are particularly problematic. The first is this terrible, endless sentence in the seventh paragraph:
As a Senator, Kerry served since 2009 as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman where he became a Senate leader on key foreign policy and national security issues facing the United States including Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear nonproliferation, and global climate change, building on his previous Senate work that included helping to expose the Iran-Contra scandal and leadership on global AIDS.
Next, there’s the double use of "best-selling" to describe Kerry’s books and the questionable use of the word "which":
Secretary Kerry is the author of best-selling books, including A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America and This Moment on Earth, a best-selling book on the environment which he co-authored with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.
There are other minor copy problems — missing commas and the like — sprinkled throughout. But there are also matters of judgment, such as the unusual (and awkwardly phrased) inclusion of the following laudatory quote:
The New York Times wrote that through his service as Chairman, "Kerry now practices his brand of diplomacy as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee but also, remarkably, as a kind of ex-officio member of Obama’s national security team, which has dispatched him to face one crisis after another in danger zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan."
That’s from a 2011 New York Times Magazine profile by James Traub, who also writes a weekly column for Foreign Policy. Kudos to my colleague Jim for the shoutout, but isn’t it kind of strange for America’s top diplomat to be patting himself on the back like this?
UPDATE: There’s also a factual error in the bio, a reader points out:
As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, in 2010, John Kerry was instrumental in renewing the New START Treaty, a vital nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia that helps steer both countries away from dangerous nuclear confrontations.
Not only is "New START Treaty" an example of the deadly RAS Syndrome in action (think "ATM machine"), but it wasn’t renewed — it was new!