Back in the United States, Mr. Kahn completed his master’s program and then returned to Dallas as foreign news editor for The Morning News. Soon, the paper agreed to make him its Asia correspondent, based in Hong Kong, where his reporting on the mistreatment of Chinese women helped the paper win a Pulitzer in 1994.
Hired by The Wall Street Journal in late 1993, Mr. Kahn was based in Shanghai, a rare station for American journalists at the time. A colleague, Kathy Chen, remembered Kahn as ironic but understated. “He was a master at making some funny comment while he barely cracked a smile,” she said.
Her career was on the rise, until a wrong turn threatened to derail her.
At age 32, Mr. Kahn was named editor and publisher of The Far Eastern Economic Review, a weekly publication owned by Dow Jones, the parent company of The Journal. It wasn’t a good fit: older reporters were skeptical of Kahn’s relative inexperience, and he had never overseen the business side of a professional publication. He returned to The Journal as a correspondent after only three months.
In retrospect, Kahn called it a blessing: His reporting soon landed him a job at The Times in 1998. He would have to start over in an unfamiliar newsroom, but said that was part of the appeal: “I was excited to try myself.” same again.”
After a stint in the United States covering Wall Street and the economy, Kahn returned to China in 2002. He reported aggressively on the country’s politics and financial dealings, angering leaders who were hostile to press freedom. In 2003, a young Times researcher, Zhao Yan, was arrested on charges of revealing state secrets; Mr. Kahn helped lead efforts to free him and defend him in court.
In 2006, Kahn’s investigation of China’s antiquated legal system, co-written with correspondent Jim Yardley, won a Pulitzer Prize. The following year, he married Shannon Wu, who previously worked at the World Bank; they now live in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village with her two children.
After returning to New York in 2008 as editor, Mr. Kahn helped launch The Times’ Chinese website in 2011, a multi-million dollar investment at a time of financial scarcity for the company. Some six months later, Mr. Kahn was part of the editorial team that decided to publish an investigation into the hidden wealth of China’s ruling class, led by Business Desk, despite strident objections from the Chinese government.