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American Journalism Review
A New Outlook  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   May 1996

A New Outlook   

By Sheryl M. Kennedy

J odie Allen , editor of the Washington Post 's Sunday commentary and opinion section, Outlook, says she couldn't refuse when former "Crossfire" host and longtime friend Michael Kinsley asked her to join him at The Slate , Microsoft's electronic magazine expected to debut later this year.

But unlike Kinsley, who left behind the Beltway and all the wonks inside it to become editor of the Seattle-based cybermagazine, Allen will stay in Washington thanks to the wonders of telecommuting.

Allen, 57, admits Kinsley is the main reason she chose to join The Slate, which will cover foreign and domestic policy as well as popular culture, but says she also couldn't resist the call of the cyber-frontier. "I love the newness of the magazine," Allen says. "Being a part of something like this at the beginning stages is about as new and challenging as you can get."

This is not the first leap Allen, a Manhattan native, has taken in her career. Before joining the Post in the late 1970s, she was a nuclear war strategist for the government. "Back then it was my job to think about the 'what ifs' of nuclear war," says Allen, a Vasser graduate who majored in government. "So I had a head full of ideas and plans to save our country."

During a stint at a Washington think tank, Allen was asked by Post Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield to write op-ed pieces about her work. After that she returned to government briefly to join the Carter administration, and was eventually asked by Greenfield to join the Post's editorial staff for a six-month trial period.

Allen says even though journalism wasn't her first love, it soon became her greatest. "I was a nervous wreck at first," she says. "But before I knew it, I was hooked." So when no one mentioned that her six months were up, she just continued to write.



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