Tali Woodward is a reporter, editor and adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University. The daughter of Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, she previously said she had no desire to follow in her famous father’s footsteps. But a college internship altered that mindset.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Tali Woodward Originally Did Not Want to Pursue Journalism Until an Internship at an Alternative Newspaper Changed Her Mind
Taliesin Woodward was born November 10, 1976, to Bob and his second wife, Frances Kuper. Her father has worked for the Washington Post for his entire career, mainly covering presidential administrations, meaning Tali grew up surrounded by politics and journalism.
In an interview with Editor & Publisher in 2004, Tali confessed that she originally had no desire to become a reporter like her dad. However, she still enjoyed writing. Book publishing was her chosen route.
Tali began her college career at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994 with that intent in mind. But a summer internship at the San Francisco Bay Guardian changed her mind entirely.
Tali said the experience at the alternative newspaper showed her that sometimes it’s ok for a publication to offer an opinion, and she decided she liked that better than the traditional journalistic route. “I like being at a place that isn’t afraid to take a position. There is a place for objective journalism, and a place for alternative journalism.”
Tali went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history before accepting a full-time job in San Francisco.
2. Tali Did Inherit Her Father’s Skill for Investigative Journalism, Which She Put Into Use as a Staff Writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian
After completing her undergraduate education, Tali went to work for the San Francisco Bay Guardian full-time. She worked as a staff writer for the free alternative newspaper from February 1999 until May 2006.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Tali wrote about a wide range of topics, including local politics, health care, the media and eduction. She published investigate pieces and magazine-style features as well. One of those investigate stories was a deep-dive into the Fang family, which owned the San Francisco Examiner. She interviewed at least 28 Examiner employees for the story. Tali revealed that the Fangs paid family members more than $1 million to salaries, and used company funds to pay for other Fang-owned enterprises.
In the interview with Editor & Publisher referenced above, Tali admitted that her father’s reputation in the journalism industry may have played a role in her decision to go the alternative route, even if she was not originally aware if it. “I know that I am going to be compared to him. But I like news too much to let that keep me away.”
Tali left the San Francisco Bay Guardian a few years before it shut down. After nearly 50 years of business, the paper ceased publication in 2014. In 2016, it relaunched an online version.
3. Tali Became the Director of Her Alma Mater, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
Tali Woodward left San Francisco in 2006, choosing to take her talents back to the east coast. She enrolled in the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, earning a Master’s degree in 2007.
After completing graduate school, Tali focused on freelance writing. According to her LinkedIn page, she wrote for various online and print publications, and continues that work to this day. Publications she has written for include Newsweek, Sierra and National Geographic.
In 2009, she returned to Columbia as an assistant director and adjunct associate professor. She helped guide the next generation of journalists. She explains that part of her job was overseeing the thesis process and editing students’ work. While there, she took steps to offer more instruction on longform reporting, by creating annual workshops focused extensively on this type of investigate journalism. Tali also played a role in deciding the winners of research grants.
In July of 2011, Tali received a major promotion: Director of the same master’s program where she studied. She served as the Director of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism for more than nine years. In addition to her administrative duties such as hiring, overseeing the budget and overseeing faculty, Tali maintained a hands-on role with students. She continued to teach reporting classes, guide students as they develop thesis’ and provide help as an editor.
4. Tali Woodward Has Joined a Website Aimed at Accurately Tracking Gun Violence in America
Tali Woodward stepped down as Director of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in August 2018. She is still an adjunct professor at Columbia. But she has gone back to her roots by joining a publication that appears willing to express a viewpoint. She is now Deputy Editor of The Trace. The organization describes itself as a “nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis.”
One of the services the site provides is tracking how much money the National Rifle Association spends on political campaigns. The site also includes articles such as “How to Keep Armed Militias Out of Your City,” tips for how to report on gun violence survivors and threats of violence.
The Trace also did a deep dive into mass shootings, and made an effort to dispel misconceptions about them. For example, the publication pointed out that mass shootings account for just 2 percent of gun deaths. They cite federal data that confirms that 2 out of 3 Americans who die from a gunshot wound commit suicide. The article explains the typical profile of a mass shooter, point out that most killers obtain their weapons legally, and list the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
About halfway down the Trace website, you’ll also find a running tally tracking gun violence in America. It lists the number of gun violence incidents so far this year, the number of accidental shootings and the number of shootings the day before.
5. Tali Woodward Married a Fellow Journalist and They Have Two Children
Tali Woodward is married to Gabriel Roth, a senior editor at Slate Magazine. They tied the knot in 2008 and live in Brooklyn, New York. They have two children.