Guest, Harry Jaffe

Guest Name: 
Harry Jaffe
Harry Jaffe
Guest Occupation: 
Author/journalist covering Washington, DC
Guest Biography: 

Harry Jaffe is a legend among journalists and writers covering the city of Washington, DC — its politics, its crime, its heroes and villains. Beyond Washington, his work has been published in Playboy, Yahoo News, Men’s Health, Harper’s, Esquire and newspapers from the San Francisco Examiner to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s appeared in documentary films, TV and radio across the country and Europe.

Jaffe started reporting for the Rutland (VT) Herald in 1974. By 1977 he was a statewide reporting covering politics, nuclear power and the Legislature.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy asked Jaffe to become his press secretary in 1978. Moving to DC, he helped get Leahy’s message to state and local media while preparing the senator for reelection. He resumed reporting with States News Service, writing about Congress and the federal government for newspapers in the Bay Area in 1980. He learned the craft of long form journalism at Regardies and Washingtonian magazines. Jaffe found his niche covering the local Washington region, honing in on politics, true crime and media. As Washingtonian’s National Editor from 1990 on, he won many awards for investigative feature writing. His expose of toxic waste pits from World War I in DC’s Spring Valley triggered a $300-million ongoing cleanup.

With WRC-TV reporter Tom Sherwood, Jaffe co-authored Dream City: Race, Power and the Decline of Washington, DC, the definitive account of Washington’s emergence as a world class city, with Marion Barry as the main character. The New York Times named it one of the best political books of 1994. Published as an e-book in 2014, Dream City rose to the top of Amazon’s local history list. Universities across the U.S. have adopted Dream City as a text in Urban Studies courses.

Jaffe went on to collaborate with school reformer Michelle Rhee on Radical, her memoir and take on education in America. He followed that by collaborating with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Michael Kelly, her astronaut husband, in their book ENOUGH; Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence.

As an educator, Jaffe started lecturing at Georgetown University in 1984 and became an assistant professor of media studies at American University. In 1986 he taught journalism and media at the American University in Rome. He’s lectured at the University of Maryland, Towson University, George Washington University and Trinity College.

In addition to contributing to Washingtonian and other publications, Jaffe is at work on a number of collaborations and books, as well as treatments for dramatic productions.

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