I was born in Arkansas and grew up in California, Venezuela, British Columbia, Mexico, Alaska and Bolivia, the younger of two boys in a globe-trotting family headed by my father, a director of schools, and my mother, a teacher.
In 1989 I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history. Then a summer internship as a copy editor at the San Jose Mercury News turned into a job that I hold to this day.
I toiled as a copy editor, wire editor, page designer and backup copy chief until 1992, when I was offered the odd job of writing the daily “Q&A on the News” column and being national graphics coordinator, where I would work with the art department to produce graphics about national and world news.
This led to the most fruitful period of my working life — over 20 years in which I wrote, edited, designed, defended and wrangled into print big news graphics, illustrated histories and Page 1 centerpieces on every subject imaginable. In this capacity I’ve covered every global news event since 1992, from war in Bosnia to the IPO of Twitter.
As national editor, I advise managing editors on how to play world and national news in print and online. I write an online column called “The Wire” that summarizes the top stories in the nation and world five days a week. And I continue to work as a graphics editor, pursuing a conviction that anything worth reading is worth illustrating.
I'm the author of The Cult That Snapped: A Journey Into The Way International, the definitive exposé of what was once the second-largest cult in America, and the forthcoming book Manic Dawn: The Strange Adventures of a Mad Father and a Loyal Son, a son’s uncommonly intimate portrait of a good man with a bad problem.
I have two sons, a future lawyer and a working actor. I live in Los Gatos, California, in an apartment I call Leafy Gables. Write me.
© 2013 by Karl Kahler