Sewell Chan is international news editor in the London office of The New York Times, focusing on coverage of breaking news in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He was previously the deputy editor of the op-ed page and Sunday Review section and a reporter on economics from Washington. After he moderated a panel discussing what Britain owes Europe, Chan shared a bit in the Zócalo green room about the TV show he can’t stop watching, subway performers, and his fears for U.S. democracy.
Whose talent would you most like to have?
Katherine Boo. She is one of the greatest nonfiction writers alive.
What is your favorite story among those you reported?
I can’t possibly choose among my children.
What keeps you up at night?
I hope this doesn’t sound self-centered after the talk about Britain and the EU—but I’m very worried about the U.S. I’m the first American citizen in my family. I take the responsibility of citizenship very seriously and I’m very worried about the stability and durability of the future of American democracy. The future is imperiled by the soaring inequality we’re experiencing.
What’s your guilty TV-watching pleasure?
House of Cards.
If you could legalize one crime, which would you choose?
Nonviolent drug offenses should not be punished.
What is your favorite use of public space in London?
The reading rooms at the British Library.
What does it take to get you on a dance floor?
A thermonuclear reactor.
What vegetable best describes you?
What year, past or future, would you time travel to if you could?
1941. Lots of interesting things were going on and my mom was born that year.
What do you miss most about your hometown, New York?
My friends, obviously. And family, of course. But also, I miss the performers in the subway.