Jennifer 8. Lee

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For the 1992 film, see Jennifer 8.
Jennifer 8. Lee
Born Jennifer Lee
(1976-03-15) March 15, 1976 (age 42)
New York, New York, U.S.
Ethnicity American of Chinese/Taiwanese descent
Occupation Journalist
Notable credit(s) The New York Times

Jennifer 8. Lee (Chinese name: Chinese: 李競[1]; pinyin: Lǐ Jìng) (born March 15, 1976) is an American journalist who previously worked for The New York Times.[2] She is also the co-founder and president of the literary studio Plympton,[3] as well as a producer on The Search for General Tso, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.[4]

Lee attempted to popularize the term "man date" in a New York Times article, and although it never became popular it subsequently inspired the film I Love You, Man starring Paul Rudd.[5][6]

Early life and education

Lee was born on March 15, 1976 in New York City, to immigrants from Kinmen, an island off the coast of China's Fujian province.[7][8] Lee was not given a middle name at birth so she chose "8." when she was a teenager.[9][10][11] In Chinese culture, the number eight symbolizes prosperity and good luck. She graduated from Hunter College High School in Manhattan in 1994. She graduated from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999 with a degree in applied mathematics and economics.


While a student at Harvard, Lee was the vice president of the Harvard Crimson. She interned at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsday, and The New York Times during college. She joined the Times in 2001, one and a half years after graduating from Harvard.

Lee wrote a book about the history of Chinese food in the United States and around the world, titled The Fortune Cookie Chronicles,[8] documenting the process on her blog. She reported the story of how a batch of fortune cookies created 110 Powerball lottery winners.[12] To the surprise of many non-Chinese readers, she reported that fortune cookies are found in many countries but not China and that fortune cookies may have originated in Japan.[13][14] Warner Books editor Jonathan Karp struck a deal with Lee to write a book about "how Chinese food is more all-American than apple pie."[15] She appeared on The Colbert Report to promote the book.[16] The book was #26 on the New York Times Best Seller list.[17]

In December 2009, Lee accepted a buyout, that is, when an employer may "buy out" an employee's contract by making a single prepayment, so as to have no ongoing obligation to employ the person, from The New York Times[2] after the organization offered buyouts to all newsroom staff in October 2009 as part of an attempt to cut 100 newsroom positions due to budget cuts.[18]

Lee has served on the advisory panel for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's "News Challenge", and has assisted the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, dealing with the press and with social networking sites.[19] She helped the organization with its April 2010 release of a video showing the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike.[20] Lee serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Public Integrity,[21] the Advisory Board of the Nieman Foundation,[22] and the Asian American Writers' Workshop.[23] She is also an advisor to Upworthy.[24]

In 2011, Lee and fellow writer Yael Goldstein Love founded a literary studio named Plympton, Inc.[3] The studio focuses on publishing serialized fiction for digital platforms.[25] Investors include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Y Combinator partner Garry Tan, Delicious founder Joshua Schachter, Hipmunk founder Adam Goldstein, Inkling founder Matt MacInnis, Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu (author of “The Master Switch”), Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever, and Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund.[26] Its first series launched in September 2012 as part of the Kindle Serials program.[27] Its app Rooster, launched in March 2014, is a mobile reading service for iOS7.[28]

In 2012, Lee created NewsDiffs, a website that archives article revisions from The New York Times, CNN, Politico, The Washington Post, and the BBC, with two brothers who were programmers, MIT graduate student Eric Price and Tddium employee Greg Price.[29][30][31] They built the website in 38 hours (including sleep) during the June 16–17, 2012, Knight-Mozilla-M.I.T. hackathon at the MIT Media Lab.[29]

See also


  1. Lee, Jennifer 8. "Someone added my Chinese name to my Wikipedia entry in simplified :( form". The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Jennifer 8. Lee Taking Times Buyout". New York Observer. December 9, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Our Team | Plympton". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  4. Foundas, Scott. "Tribeca Film Review: ‘The Search for General Tso’". Variety. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  5. Liu, Jonathan. "Times Goes Hollywood: Gives Content Work to Beverly Hills Group". New York Observer. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  6. Ventura, Elbert. "I Love You, Man". Reverse Shot. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  7. "Ask a Reporter: Jennifer 8. Lee". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Lee, Jennifer 8. (2008). The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. New York, NY: Twelve Books. ISBN 0-446-69897-0. OCLC 225870250. 
  9. Horne, Jim (November 22, 2008). "Lucky Number 8". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  10. Lee, Jennifer 8. "Someone added my Chinese name to my Wikipedia entry in simplified :( form" The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. March 17, 2008.
  11. Lee, Jennifer 8. "Yes, 8 is my middle name." Boston Globe. August 8, 1996. Page E1.
  12. Jennifer 8. Lee (May 11, 2005). "Who Needs Giacomo? Bet on the Fortune Cookie". New York Times. 
  13. Jennifer 8. Lee (January 16, 2008). "Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie". 
  14. 8. Lee, Jennifer (January 16, 2008). "Fortune Cookies are really from Japan.". The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. 
  15. "Jennifer 8. Lee Attracts Americans with Chinese Food", October 13, 2008. Source: Xinhua/Translated by Archived October 17, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Jennifer 8. Lee on The Colbert Report on Tuesday, March 4th, 2008"
  17. "Best Sellers, Hardcover Nonfiction, March 30, 2008"
  18. "The New York Times Buyout List (Updated)". Gawker. December 7, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  19. WikiLeaks questions why it was rejected for Knight grant, Yahoo! News, 17 June 2010 Archived September 27, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Clint Hendler: WikiLeaks Releases Video Showing Death of Reuters Staff Columbia Journalism Review April 05, 2010
  21. "Board of Directors". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  22. "About The Foundation | Advisory Board". The Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  23. "Read the Margins – About". Read the Margins. Asian American Writers' Workshop. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  24. "Upworthy | The Paley Center for Media". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  25. Denison, D.C. (September 8, 2012). "Boston literary start-up lands Amazon deal". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  26. Ha, Anthony (March 10, 2014). "Aiming To Fit Fiction Into Busy Schedules, Rooster Is An iPhone App For Serialized Novels". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  27. Bosman, Julie (September 30, 2012). "E-Books Expand Their Potential With Serialized Fiction". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  28. McMurtrie, John (March 12, 2014). "S.F. company launches Rooster, a new mobile reading service". SFGate. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 Brisbane, Arthur S. (2012-06-30). "Insider's View of Changes, From Outside". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-18. 
  30. Silverman, Craig (2012-06-18). "NewsDiffs tracks changes to New York Times, CNN". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-18. 
  31. Goldenberg, Kira (2013-02-04). "Tracking the NYT's evolving Koch obit: NewsDiffs reveals the newspaper's multiple revisions, resulting in a surge of traffic". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-18. 

Further reading

External links