Profile: Howard W. French (1957-)

Howard Waring French is an American journalist, author, and photographer, as well as professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to re-entering academia, he was a longtime foreign correspondent and senior writer with The New York Times. His latest book is Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power (Knopf, March 2017).


French was a university instructor in the Ivory Coast in the 1980s before becoming a reporter. He has reported extensively on the political affairs of Western and Central Africa. These reports were the basis for the book A Continent for the Taking.

French has also reported on the political and social affairs in China, where he covered the growth of civil society, the government crackdown of dissent in the Dongzhou protests of 2005, and the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, among other topics. His most recent work for The New York Times was centered on China where he was the paper’s Shanghai bureau chief, from 2003 to 2008.

French was New York Times bureau chief for the Caribbean and Central America from 1990 to 1994; he covered Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and numerous other countries. He was one of the newspaper’s first black correspondents.

From 1994 to 1998, French covered West and Central Africa for the Times, reporting on wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Central Africa, with particular attention to the fall of the longtime dictator of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko.

From 1998 to 2003, French was Tokyo Bureau Chief for the Times, covering Japan and the Koreas.

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