About Me

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, mentor, novelist, and advocate. My career spans four decades and three continents. The golden thread throughout my personal and professional lives has been telling stories and helping others. Often these results intertwine.

Portrait of Jonathan FreedmanI am dedicated to fight cynicism with compassion, lighten darkness with humor, and make a difference, whether I am:

  • writing about injustice
  • advocating change
  • affecting major reforms
  • profiling unsung heroes
  • mentoring clients
  • working with kids to create an imaginative book

My early writing career

ImmigrantsAfter earning a bachelor’s degree and winning a writing fellowship from Columbia University in New York, I began my career as a foreign correspondent and reporter for Associated Press in Brazil. From there I went on to pen works of fiction in Spain and Portugal. I did freelance writing for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. I also travelled extensively on assignment for The San Diego Tribune in the United States, Latin America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. The issues I wrote about included human rights, genocide, civil wars, terrorism, and peacemaking. I have also written about lighter subjects such as Brazilian folk art, Tokyo bars, Carnival in Rio, and cycling in Switzerland.

Jonathan as a journalistFor a decade, I was an editorial writer and columnist for the San Diego Tribune. The series of editorials I penned during that period earned me a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Editorial Writing. My editorials were instrumental in the passage of historic U.S. immigration reforms − legislation that paved the way for more than 3 million undocumented immigrants to come out of hiding and begin their path to citizenship.

Let me tell you about my books

My nonfiction books spotlight teachers and heroes who help people overcome poverty, ignorance, and despair. In From Cradle to Grave: The Human Face of Poverty in America, I delved into the devastating and dehumanizing effects of poverty, explored our nation’s failure to fully support the social needs of its citizens, and documented programs that enable the impoverished to overcome hardship and get back on their feet.

Wall of Fame follows the lives of an extraordinary teacher and six of her students as they struggle to achieve academic success. Time Magazine and CNN subsequently recognized Mary Catherine Swanson, the teacher I profiled in the book, as Teacher of the Year.

“A wonderful book about a true American heroine, Mary Catherine Swanson, who developed the AVID program that literally changes the life outcomes of thousands of students whom society would have consigned to its scrap heap.”

– Gene I. Maeroff,
Director, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media,
Teachers College, Columbia University

For the last several years, my focus has been on raising children and writing commentary and fiction for all ages. My latest book, Bounce, is a fable about the power and the limitations of giving. It features an unlikely cast of characters – a watermelon man, an irascible parrot, and a lawyer – fighting evildoers and hate mongers.

Let me tell you about my work with children

Jonathan working with kids

© Dave Gatley 1998

Word to your Moms Working with inner-city schools as part of my Hope Writing Project, I helped hundreds of kids threatened by drugs and violence discover the power of the pen. As an educator, I brought my writing skills and message of hope to young people from elementary school through college, motivating them to use the written and spoken word to achieve goals they thought were impossible.

After giving a talk to educators, a young teacher came up to me and said, “Thank you for advocating for children whose parents brought them here illegally. We took advantage of legalization and education. Now I teach high school English and coach students to prepare for college.”

How can I help you change the world?

In short, my experience has taught me that one person can indeed change the world.

After living and writing on three continents, I now call the San Francisco Bay area home. I take on projects ranging from California to Nepal and issues around the globe. I am eager to offer my services as a writer, mentor, teacher, motivational speaker, coach, and publisher. I believe storytelling is an innate human characteristic. People gain power through telling stories; I am here to facilitate that process. Send me an e-mail and we can set up a time to talk.

How can I help you change the world? Contact me at jonathan@jonathaninwords.com

First consultation is free.