Influential New York Times (NYT) political journalist Blake Hounshell has died, his family confirmed on Tuesday. He was 44.
Police in Washington are investigating the death as a suicide after identifying the body.
Hounshell’s family said in a statement that he died “after a long and courageous battle with depression”.
Hounshell joined the NYT in October 2021 where he oversaw the popular “On Politics” newsletter. Prior to this, he had spent eight years at the Politico and had been the managing editor at Foreign Policy.
“Blake was a dedicated journalist who quickly distinguished himself as our lead politics newsletter writer and a gifted observer of our country’s political scene,” NYT executive editor Joe Kahn and managing editor Carolyn Ryan said in a note to the staff.
“He became an indispensable and always insightful voice in the report during a busy election cycle,” they added. “Blake was devoted to his family and a friend of many on our politics and Washington teams, who have worked alongside him for many years.
“We’ve just lost a valuable colleague and this is a heartbreaking loss for our team.”
Raised in Pittsburgh and a graduate of Yale University, Hounshell began working in journalism after travelling to Cairo to study Arabic. He joined Foreign Policy magazine in 2006 and returned to Cairo in February 2011 to cover the Arab uprisings.
I am so shocked and so sad to hear about the tragic death of Blake Hounshell (@NYTBlake @blakehounshell.) I met him in Cairo when I was 22, on the day I got my very first newspaper job. I was excited when he joined The Times and wish I’d spent more time hanging out with him here. pic.twitter.com/sdvY78NTDt
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) January 10, 2023
The NYT obit mentioned that in 2011 he was a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, given by the Wallace House Center for Journalists at the University of Michigan, for his reporting on the Arab Spring uprisings of the early 2010s.
NYT politics editor David Halbfinger said that Hounshell was endowed with “the kind of wide-ranging intellect that made it possible for him to explain anything to anyone”.
Struck by the outpouring of praise & grief tonight for @blakehounshell. Wish we could have told him all this last week, wish he could have heard it. So many among us are fighting mighty battles, and people walk right by. Not unkindly, just unaware. https://t.co/6ixjV1VI14
— Mary Louise Kelly (@NPRKelly) January 11, 2023
There was an outpouring of grief and shock from his former and current colleagues and fellow journalists worldwide.
“I am so shocked and so sad to hear about the tragic death of Blake Hounshell (@NYTBlake @blakehounshell.) I met him in Cairo when I was 22, on the day I got my very first newspaper job. I was excited when he joined The Times and wish I’d spent more time hanging out with him here,” NYT reporter Liam Stack tweeted.
Blake Hounshell was my friend, partner, and journalistic inspiration for many years through our time together at Foreign Policy and Politico. I will have more to say but for now I just want to say how much I will miss him. RIP, dear friend. pic.twitter.com/DYUSEozPpv
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) January 10, 2023
“The @politico newsroom is in anguish. Blake Hounshell had a dazzling mind, full of original insights about a vast array of subjects,” John F Harris, a founding editor of Politico, wrote on Twitter. “He was a deeply idealistic and curious man with an exhilarating ability to perceive both patterns and contradictions in the news.”
Blake Hounshell was a fellow stroke survivor, and one of the first interviews I did when I returned to the campaign trail and struggled to find my words.
He showed compassion and humanity in a way few others had.
This is heartbreaking.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) January 10, 2023
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted that Hounshell was “always a smart, curious, very very kind guy. Just devastating news”.
Mary Louise Kelly, host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” wrote: “Struck by the outpouring of praise & grief tonight for â¦@blakehounshellâ©. Wish we could have told him all this last week, wish he could have heard it. So many among us are fighting mighty battles, and people walk right by. Not unkindly, just unaware.”
Like a lot of journalists on here I had a lively DM friendship with Blake Hounshell, filled with lolz and mutual esteem. He was so smart and decent. I will miss him. Depression is a thief.
— Lydia Polgreen (@lpolgreen) January 10, 2023
Hounshell is survived by his wife, Sandy, and two children.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
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