About me

Hello! My name is Zeeshan Aleem, and I’m a journalist who writes about politics and society. This is a poorly maintained website where I jot down notes between articles and periodically link to my published work.

Short bio

I’m a New York-based freelance political journalist, a contributing writer to Vox and VICE, and the publisher of a weekly politics newsletter called What’s Left. My writing has also been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Nation, Esquire, GQ, Politico, HuffPost, The Chicago Tribune, NBC News, The American Prospect, In These Times, GEN, Mic, Pacific Standard, and other publications. Previously I’ve been a staff writer or editor at Vox, HuffPost, Mic, and Politico, and worked as an adjunct professor at the New School. I was born in Washington, D.C. and educated at George Washington University, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago.

Long bio

I’m a New York-based freelance political journalist, a contributing writer to Vox and VICE, and the publisher of a weekly politics newsletter called What’s Left.

My writing has also been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Nation, Esquire, GQ, Politico, HuffPost, The Chicago Tribune, NBC News, The American Prospect, In These Times, GEN, Mic, Pacific Standard, and other publications.

I’ve appeared as a commentator on the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” BBC Radio, CBS News, ABC News, Brian Lehrer’s weekly television program, Vox’s podcasts “Worldly” and “The Weeds,” VICE’s “Bernie Blackout” documentary, and many other radio shows and podcasts.

I’ve worked as an adjunct professor in the media department at The New School, and I’ve delivered lectures or sat on panels at Harvard University, Columbia University, Royal Holloway University, the Newseum, Brooklyn for Peace, and elsewhere.

I also do non-journalistic writing, editing, and ghost-writing for various kinds of clients on a freelance basis. If you’re interested in having me write, edit or speak for you, feel free to reach out.

For most of my career I’ve written primarily about American politics. I’ve reported on the ground from presidential campaign trails, mass protests, terrorist attack scenes and Washington’s most insufferable cocktail parties. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time writing about foreign affairs, and have reported from scenes like a socialist village in the Andes mountains, an automated factory in Beijing, an anarchist commune in Copenhagen, and a North Korean government-run restaurant in Shanghai.

As a journalist my curiosity is indiscriminate, and I write about a wide variety of topics under the umbrella of politics, a term I tend to think of in a very broad sense. A major theme in my thinking is contemplating the history, social science and real-world experiments of the left, whether in policy or protest or electoral ambition. Some of my writing interests include the Democrats, the radical left(s), political economy, free speech, class, foreign policy, the welfare state, political culture, the formation of identity, and film.

I’ve been writing for a wide variety of publications since I left my staff position at Vox to pursue freelance writing in 2018. I’ve also used this time to develop a weekly politics newsletter, which has grown considerably in readership and reach. My newsletter has been featured on the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” and some of my writing there has been republished by The Chicago Tribune and cited by publications like HuffPost. 

Previously, I was a foreign affairs staff writer at Vox, where I was tasked with explaining the unraveling of the global order in the Trump era. I reported from New York, Washington, and abroad, covering the personalities and policies of the Trump administration. I also reported on major international stories, such as the rise of China’s digital economy, the collapse of Venezuela, and the hidden incentives underlying the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. During my time at Vox I made appearances on Vox‘s explainer videos and flagship policy podcast, “The Weeds.”

Prior to that, I was a senior politics staff writer at Mic, where I wrote columns on public policy issues, covered the 2016 elections and interviewed leading political figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and acclaimed scholar Cornel West. One highlight of my time there was when I broke news by prompting Warren to admit that she wouldn’t ruled out serving as vice president to Hillary Clinton.

Before that, I served as a writer for Arianna Huffington, then editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, handling her public commentary on politics and international affairs. I also worked with her on a book that debuted at No. 1 on a New York Times best-seller list.

Earlier, I was a co-columnist, politics and foreign affairs blogger, and web producer at Politico, where I interviewed heads of state, broke news on congressional races and tracked the lobbying sector. One highlight of my time there was prodding Newt Gingrich into confessing that he believed that there was no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Before my full-time jobs, I interned at The Atlantic, BBC News, and the U.S. House of Representatives. I’ve also worked as a door-to-door knife salesman, a server at IHOP, a librarian, a caterer, and a soccer referee. (I will not share my tips on how to sell unreasonably expensive knife sets with anyone, I’m sorry.) 

During my years as a student and prior to becoming a professional journalist I spent a great deal of time involved in various kinds of political activism, and I have fair amount of experience dealing with batons and tear gas. I also co-wrote and co-directed a play with Tom Costello at the Burton Taylor Studio in Oxford, England.

My work has been covered or cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, NBC News, CBS News, US News & World Report, SlateNew York Magazine, The New Republic, Esquire, Reason, Vox, The Huffington Post, Politico, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Salon, The Hill, The Washington Times, Think Progress, and university curricula in the US and abroad.

I was born in Washington, D.C. and attended the Sidwell Friends School growing up. I attended George Washington University on a Presidential Scholarship and received my bachelor’s degree in American Studies, magna cum laude. I spent a year of that degree studying critical theory, history and politics at Oxford University. I earned my master’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago, where I was awarded a University Scholarship.