Mary Kay Magistad

Mary Kay Magistad is formerly The World’s East Asia correspondent. She lived and reported in the region for two decades. Mary Kay is now based in San Francisco.

During her time in Asia, she traveled regularly and widely throughout China and beyond, exploring how China’s rapid transformation has affected individual lives and exploring the bigger geopolitical, economic and environmental implications of China’s rise. She stepped back every so often to do an in-depth series on such topics as the China’s urbanization — the biggest and most rapid move from the countryside to the cities in human history, on the potential for innovation in China, and on the ripple effects on Chinese society of the One Child Generation coming of age. Mary Kay’s seven-part series on that subject, called “Young China,” won a 2007 Overseas Press Club Award, one of several awards she has received.

Mary Kay started out in Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok, as a regular contributor to NPR, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and other news media. She covered the Cambodian civil war and the UN peace process, the Burmese army’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and the United States’ wary rapprochement in the early ‘90s with Vietnam. Mary Kay also reported farther afield, covering the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda, tensions with Iraq in Kuwait, and other stories.

Mary Kay became NPR’s full-time Southeast Asia correspondent in 1993, and in 1996 she opened NPR’s first Beijing bureau. She took time out for two fellowships at Harvard — a Nieman and a Radcliffe fellowship — enough time to realize China was too interesting a story to leave — before going back to China for The World.

Mary Kay graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in journalism and history, and has an MA in international relations from the University of Sussex in England, completed on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship.

Recent Stories

Arts, Culture & Media

Disrupting the Kleptocrat's Playbook, one investigative report at a time

After decades when democracy was on the rise, the current trend seems to be of aspiring autocrats riding populist waves to power, and then misusing that power to amass wealth for themselves and their families. Forget what President Donald Trump says about journalists being the "Enemy of the People," says Drew Sullivan, head of the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project — investigative reporting has never been more important.

Arts, Culture & Media

South Africa's imperfect progress, 20 years after the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

After decades of institutionalized racism under apartheid, South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission helped a divided nation watch, weep, reflect & come together — even if imperfectly. What is its legacy now, two decades later? How much of the hope South Africans had for what their future might be together has been borne out? Host Mary Kay Magistad visited South Africa to see how South Africans from different communities feel about what difference the TRC has, and hasn't, made in their lives.

Arts, Culture & Media

How a massacre of a village's Jews by their neighbors in WWII Poland is remembered — and misremembered

Updated

Memory can be slippery, especially when there's incentive to forget, or misremember. In the Polish village of Jedwabne, residents long said Nazis were responsible for the massacre, one hot day in July 1941, of hundreds of Jews in the village. Then evidence emerged that the villagers of Jedwabne had killed their own neighbors.

Business, Economics and Jobs

Why do so few women work (for pay) in Jordan?

Get a good education, and the world's your oyster, right? Not necessarily, if you're a woman in Jordan. While Jordan has one of the highest female literacy rates in the Middle East, and there are more women in college there than men, gender discrimination still abounds in the workplace. This is not just costing women, it's costing Jordan — half to almost a full percentage point of GDP growth each year, says the Brookings Institution. What's at play here? Jordanian lawyer and human rights activist Asma Khader shares her thoughts with The World's Shirin Jaafari.

Science, Tech & Environment

Where to find what's disappeared online, and a whole lot more: the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is much beloved by investigative reporters and others, looking to find out what a webpage looked like at some point in the past, even if it's since disappeared. But the Internet Archive's work is much more ambitious than that. Founder Brewster Kahle says through scanning books and recording video feeds around the world, it aims to make all human knowledge universally available on a decentralized Web, and illiberal impulses among leaders in America and elsewhere are only "putting a fire under our butts" to do the work, swiftly and effectively.