Channing Joseph

Journalist, Author, Historian

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Channing Joseph is a Louisiana-born journalist based in Los Angeles. As a reporter, he broke the story of Wikileaks’ 2007 publication of secret military documents from the war in Afghanistan. He most frequently writes about subcultures, movements, and social inequality, and his reporting has taken him from the southernmost tip of Africa to the mountains of rural Japan.

As an editor, he has directed and shaped the work of two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners. He has served as editor-in-chief of SF Weekly, San Francisco’s flagship alternative newspaper, as well as on staff at The New York Times and Associated Press.

As a staff editor at The New York Times, he edited projects that resulted in the release of several wrongfully convicted prisoners and helped earn the paper two Polk Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.

His articles have been published by The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Sun, Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, MTV News, U.S. News & World Report, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, BET, CNN, and many others.

In 2016, he received a Ford Foundation fellowship for his reporting on Japan’s hikikomori subculture of extreme hermits and was named a fellow of the International Center for Journalists. In 2017, he was a Nieman Foundation finalist.

Mr. Joseph now serves on the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, where he teaches multimedia journalism, web development, and the business of media.

He has previously taught at Oberlin College and the State University of New York–Plattsburgh, and he frequently guest-lectures at other institutions, including the University of California–Berkeley, and the Academy of Art University. As a visiting assistant professor at SUNY–Plattsburgh in 2009–2010, he designed courses combining beat reporting and digital skills and was honored with a merit award for his teaching there.

At USC, he is leading an initiative to increase the curriculum’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and access, and he has designed a new required course to provide students with strategies for navigating implicit bias and workplace discrimination.

Mr. Joseph’s most recent work focuses on LGBTQ history and culture. His upcoming book, House of Swann, is the untold story of William Dorsey Swann — the first self-described “drag queen” — and a group of former slaves who became queer activists in Washington, D.C., more than 80 years before the Stonewall Riots.

The book will be published in North America in 2020 by Crown (Penguin Random House) and in the United Kingdom and 79 other nations and territories in 2021 by Picador (Macmillan). Michael Bronski of Harvard University has called the project “fascinating,” and the renowned LGBTQ historian Jonathan Ned Katz has hailed his original research as “a wonderful discovery.”

In addition, Jessica Marie Johnson of Johns Hopkins University has publicly thanked him for helping to disprove the myth that there are no African-American LGBTQ historical sources of any significance.

He is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In his spare time, he enjoys sci-fi movies, roller coasters, acrobatics, and Afro-futurist art.

He can be reached at channinj [AT] usc [DOT] edu.



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