Farah Nayeri ’84

Major in International Affairs

Farah Nayeri ’84

How did your career start off after graduating from AUP?

I majored in international affairs at AUP, which at the time was still the American College in Paris. I was 16 when I started, and I graduated a year early, so I left ACP at 19. I went to London for a master’s degree at City University’s journalism school, then came back to Paris looking to become a reporter. I was introduced to someone at TIME Magazine, who offered me a freelancing position; I couldn’t believe that was my first journalism job! It was a great place to start out and learn journalism. I got my first byline a year later, reporting on a prison escape.

How did you get to be in your current role as culture writer for the New York Times?

Over the years, I also worked with Agence France Presse, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. I lived and worked in Paris, Rome and London, covering French, Italian and European politics and policy. In 2003, the year of the US invasion of Iraq, I was sent on assignment to Jordan and Iraq and became a witness to history. Soon after I got back from Baghdad, I joined Bloomberg’s arts and culture desk, staying for nine years. I always liked stories that juggled politics and the arts. I moved to the New York Times in 2014, continuing to write art and culture stories but on a larger scale. It’s what I love doing.

How has your AUP experience helped you throughout your career?

My professors – Roy Rosenstein (Literature), Paul Godt (Political Science), David Pike (History) and Mitchell Strohl (International Law) – had a great deal of influence on my trajectory. Their teaching and mentorship allowed me to be much better educated and better equipped to understand and report on my areas of coverage: politics, economic policy, and culture. Being a student in Paris was priceless. So many great minds come together in Paris. The knowledge exchange that happens here is incredible. Also, incredible museums such as the Louvre and the Pompidou are just a skip away. I remember covering a major Pompidou exhibition in my first year at AUP, when I was editor of the student newspaper, The Planet.

Tell us more about your current projects.

I’ve recently released a book, Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age, published by Astra House Books. It addresses censorship in the art world, looking at how we’ve moved from a top-down model, where those in power decide what to censor, to a bottom-up model, linked to modern identity politics, where the public is calling for more inclusivity and better ethics. I’m also the host of the CultureBlast podcast, which features deep-dive interviews with prominent cultural figures. I’ve interviewed Emma Thompson, Nile Rodgers, Nan Goldin and Ai Weiwei, among others.