Class of 1975
When Michael Oreskes was still a student at the College, he was lured by the prospect of a life in journalism. He had a stint as a summer intern at The Wall Street Journal, he was editor of The Campus and, as he said years later, he was “really interested in photojournalism.” He had sold photos to The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and other publications, so when the opportunity arose to be campus correspondent for The Daily News, which billed itself as “New York’s Picture Newspaper,” Oreskes thought, “Great. If I take this job as a writer, I’ll be able to sell them my pictures too.” The photography part of the fantasy didn’t work out at that time because of union regulations, but Oreskes was asked to submit articles.
He’s been writing and editing and assigning stories ever since, eventually becoming vice president and senior managing editor of The Associated Press, the largest newsgathering organization in the world, where he supervised the daily report. In 2015, he left The AP to become senior vice president for news and editorial director of NPR. He is on the boards of the American Society of News Editors, AP Managing Editors, CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, The Correspondents Fund, and is co-chair of the World Economic Forum media leaders council. He has been honored by the New York Press Club for spot news reporting, and by the Society of the Silurians for coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign. In 1999, he was presented with the College’s Townsend Harris Medal.
Oreskes is a native New Yorker who was born on May 26, 1954. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. In 1975, after earning his bachelor’s degree at City College, he went from campus correspondent for The Daily News to full-time staffer. He was a general assignment reporter, covered education news, labor and the state government in Albany, and was City Hall bureau chief. He left The News in 1981 to join The New York Times, where he spent much of the next 27 years either in New York or Washington and, at the end of his Times career, Paris. He started as a reporter on The Times’s metro staff, then became chief of the Albany bureau during Mario Cuomo’s first term as governor. From 1985 to 1987, he was a reporter in the Washington bureau. He returned to New York briefly before going back to Washington as a congressional correspondent and a national political correspondent. In 1991, he was back in New York as city editor, a title that became metro editor in 1993. In 1997, Oreskes was back in Washington, this time as head of the bureau. Under his direction, members of the bureau won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one in 1999 to a team of reporters for articles on the corporate sale of American technology to China. He also oversaw coverage of the events leading up the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Oreskes was named an assistant managing editor and director of electronic news in 2000. He was promoted to deputy managing editor in 2004. The appointment signaled the increasing importance of the paper’s three newsgathering operations overseen by Oreskes: the web site; the television unit, including the digital cable channel Discovery Times; and The International Herald Tribune, which had become fully owned by The Times in 2003. In 2005, Oreskes became executive editor of the IHT and moved to Paris.
Three years later, he was hired by The AP as its managing editor for U.S. news, a new post aimed at tailoring the news to appeal to a domestic audience. In 2009, he was named senior managing editor and was later named a vice president. Oreskes left The AP in March 2015 to join NPR.Oreskes is co-author with Eric Lane of “The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again,” published in 2007.