I'm a Brooklyn-based writer, the author of Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers and a founder of Guernica: A Magazine of Global Arts & Politics. My writing appears in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Baffler, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Boston Review, Salon, The Sun Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, World Policy Journal, The New Republic, Dissent, New York Magazine, The Poetry Foundation, The Wire (India), Jacobin and The Village Voice.
I am a former features editor at Al Jazeera America and a founder and former editor-in-chief at Guernica, for which I won a 2017 PEN/Nora Magid Award for Excellence in Editing. My essays in The Baffler, Dissent and Salon were Notables, respectively, in Best American Essays 2017, Best American Essays 2015 and Best American Essays 2013. With photographer Brett Van Ort, I co-authored the 2013 TED Talks ebook on landmine eradication, Minescape. My work has been translated into French, Russian, Romanian, German, Italian, Indonesian, Farsi and Chinese. A former board member of the Overseas Press Club, I was a multiyear judge of the Ed Cunningham Award for international magazine reporting.
I curate and manage a literary series at Brooklyn Public Library's BPL Presents on its main stage, and help present cultural and civic programming throughout the library's 60 branches. A graduate of Columbia University's School of the Arts/Writing Program, my poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Nation, and Agni. In 2003, I was awarded a “Discovery”/The Nation Prize by the 92nd Street Y and The Nation. I have taught English and writing at Fordham University, Cooper Union, John Jay College, and most recently at the Writer's Foundry MFA program at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn.
I'm working on a novel. I live in Brooklyn, known by its first people as Lenapehoking.
I had the pleasure of Introducing Edward Snowden at Brooklyn Public Library, in conversation with the ACLU's Anthony Romero, CSPAN, Sept 26, 2019
Radio interview with Doug Henwood, Behind the News (33:33), KPFA/Jacobin Radio, July 11, 2019
Podcast interview with John Dolan & Mark Ames (preview), Radio War Nerd, March 21, 2019
Radio interview with Larry Bensky, Ideas and Ideals, KPFA-Berkeley, Feb 22, 2019
Radio interview with Doug Henwood, Behind the News (minute 26), KPFA/Jacobin Radio, Feb 21, 2019
"Joel Whitney & Michael Archer of Guernica awarded PEN's Nora Magid Award for Editing," Feb 22, 2017
Angela Chen, "Salman Rushdie on his latest 'wonder tale': 'We now live in a very strange time'," The Guardian, Oct 19, 2015
Patrick Iber, "Literary Magazines for Socialists, Funded by the CIA," The Awl, Aug 24, 2015
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, is Dead at 86," New York Times, April 5, 2014
Adam Krause, "Did the CIA propagate rock n roll?" The Awl, Dec 18, 2013
Tess Elliott, "Cruel Landscapes: An interview with Joel Whitney," Point Reyes Light, March 21, 2013
Jennifer Schuessler, "Salon Article Rekindles Debate about Paris Review and CIA," New York Times, May 29, 2012
On Verso's Counterblasts, in which I stand in for Belen Fernandez, CSPAN/Leftforum, March 17, 2012
"Guernica: Lit Mag Beats the Odds," about my work on Guernica in Publishers Weekly, Oct 19, 2007
Art and Politics, commentary on NPR/KUOW, July 2007
See more here.