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Kim  Barker

Kim Barker

NYT Investigative Reporter, Host, The Coldest Case in Laramie Podcast & Author, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Kim Barker

NYT Investigative Reporter, Host, The Coldest Case in Laramie Podcast & Author, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


In her hit podcast, The Coldest Case in Laramie, the first collaboration between Serial Productions and a reporter from The New York Times, Kim Barker opens the series by discussing the case that haunted her since childhood. Barker was a sophomore in high school in Laramie when she learned of the death of Shelli Wiley, a college student and waitress, who was murdered in her apartment. She’s never forgotten the case, which was never prosecuted and allegedly involved a former Laramie police officer. And the dogged investigative skills she’s used around the world and at home were brought to the forefront examining the evidence and outcome. That’s no surprise from the woman who was part of a team at The New York Times that won the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for digging into fatalities at police traffic stops. It’s an area she’s been reporting on since the death of George Floyd in 2020. It’s also something she’s truly passionate about.

Before that, Barker was best known for her darkly comic memoir Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which recounted her years as the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, directing coverage of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India between 2004 and 2009. The New York Times first described Barker in a laudatory review of the book, originally published as The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as “a sort of Tina Fey character who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to the adrenaline rush of war.” Not surprisingly, Tina Fey soon bought the movie rights. Fey starred as the character inspired by Barker capturing the essence of the journalist’s humorous, self-deprecating, and “witty and illuminating” style.

Before joining The Tribune, Barker worked for The Seattle Times; The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.; and The Times in northwest Indiana. After leaving the Tribune, Barker became the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, spending her time studying and writing about South Asia. She then covered nonprofits and campaign finance for the nonprofit investigative news outlet ProPublica. Barker joined The New York Times in 2014. She has won numerous awards for investigative reporting, with work appearing in Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and The Atlantic. She has also appeared on The Colbert Report, CNN, MSNBC and other outlets.

In addition to her Pulitzer, Barker has won numerous awards and honors, including being named the “Journalist of the Year” by the Newswomen’s Club of New York; shared in first place for Investigative Reporters and Editors large multi-platform category in 2013 for “Big Sky, Big Money” project; shared in first place for the Online News Association’s 2013 planned news events award for medium outlets for election coverage, and in the association’s Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism for medium outlets for election coverage; shared in Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi award, online investigative reporting in 2013 for election coverage; and shared in a finalist nomination for the Deadline Club award for reporting by independent digital media in 2013 for campaign finance work.

A gifted storyteller, Barker is passionate about connecting local audiences to international affairs through the engaging stories of the individuals that have shaped her worldview. She is equally enthusiastic about her investigative work on racial disparities in law enforcement and why social justice is so necessary in today’s world. Barker is known for forging a strong connection with her audiences, gauging reactions and temporarily going off-road to follow their interests. Combined with her signature “Ask me Anything Q&A,” Barker ensures that every speaking experience is inspiring, informative and memorable—with no two presentations being exactly the same.

Speaker Videos

Speaking Reel

Kim Barker & Tina Fey on The TODAY Show

Advice for Wannabe War Reporters

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Official Trailer)

Speech Topics

The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan & Pakistan

From tea with warlords in the countryside to parties with drunken foreign correspondents in the "dry" city of Kabul, journalist Kim Barker captures the humor and heartbreak of life in post-9/11 Afghanistan and Pakistan in this profound talk. Baker offers an insider’s account of the region’s "forgotten war" at a time when all eyes were turned to Iraq. Candid, self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Barker shares both her affection for the absurdities of these two hapless countries and her fear for their future stability.

Race & Policing

In 2022, New York Times journalist Kim Barker was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for digging into fatalities at police traffic stops, which disproportionately affect people of color. Barker has been covering stories on policing and police reform since the death of George Floyd in 2020, digging into how police unions got so entrenched and how and why police officers still operate largely with impunity. In her newest project, the hit podcast, The Coldest Case in Laramie, Barker once again digs into policing issues and why the Laramie Police Department failed to close the case of the 1985 murder of a 22-year-old University of Wyoming student. In this talk, Barker shares stories from her years covering law enforcement and talks about possible solutions.