Peter Barzilai has been named the new editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, a publication for Princeton alumni. He will begin on July 18 and will oversee the content of the print magazine and PAW’s digital enterprise. Marilyn Marks, a 1986 Princeton graduate alumna who has served as the editor since late 2002, is retiring.
PAW was founded in 1900 and has a distinctive and independent editorial voice. It is staffed by University employees.
With more than 25 years of journalism experience, Barzilai comes to Princeton from USA Today, where he has worked for nearly 20 years, most recently as deputy managing editor, sports, supervising a team of reporters focused on breaking news, enterprise, investigative projects and commentary. In his leadership role at USA Today, he has also managed a staff of more than 35 people to create and execute strategies to expand USA Today’s digital enterprise and overall audience.
Previously, he was Sunday sports editor at the New York Daily News, night sports editor at The Palm Beach Post and a copy editor at the Asbury Park Press. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis on journalism, from California State University-Fullerton and began his career at the Times Advocate in Escondido, California.
“Peter Barzilai brings to the Princeton Alumni Weekly an impressive array of talents as a journalist, editor and leader,” said Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Hilary A. Parker, to whom Barzilai will report. “He is deeply committed to PAW’s mission and to the special role the magazine plays for our alumni community. We are delighted to welcome him to the University community.”
“I also want to express deepest gratitude to Marilyn Marks for her tremendous leadership of PAW for nearly two decades,” Parker added. “Her vision and dedication have ensured that PAW is positioned to flourish into the future.”
"Princetonians of all ages and interests will find Peter Barzilai to be a creative and thoughtful steward of our magazine,” said Marc Fisher, a member of the Class of 1980 and the chair of the PAW advisory board. “I'm confident he will maintain what he calls ‘the soul of PAW’ as he covers all things Princeton with rigor and fairness, and as he explores ways to boost the magazine's digital presence and connect with alumni in new and enticing ways. I'm immensely grateful to Marilyn Marks, whose extraordinary run as PAW's editor has kept us all well- and honestly informed, entertaining and illuminating us about Princeton, its people and the life of the mind."
Barzilai is no stranger to Princeton, having visited the University frequently over the years with his wife, Malena Barzilai, who is a member of the Class of 1997 and an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. He has been an avid reader of the PAW for 25 years and said once he learned of the editor position, he saw it as the perfect moment to pivot into higher education.
“I've loved working at daily newspapers since the moment I started as a 16-year-old, and yet I've wondered in recent years how might I apply my experience and skills in a different way,” Barzilai said. “What challenge would speak to me? I know the importance of PAW and the high quality of journalism its reporters and editors practice. I see so much potential to build on an already great product and can't wait to get to work with my new colleagues.”
He is also excited about the opportunity to increase audience engagement and build community across multiple channels.
“It's all about the Princeton community,” he said. “I will be there to serve the alumni and help them stay connected to the latest news, issues and people at Princeton. But PAW is also about maintaining connections outside of Princeton, and I hope to carry on that tradition and strengthen it by engaging the alumni in the magazine, on PAW's website, on social media, in person and wherever they will meet us. After all, PAW is their platform.”
He continued: “I'm also looking forward to becoming a part of the campus community, building relationships with people across campus and finding compelling stories that inform, educate and entertain Princetonians.”
Barzilai also noted the editorial independence of PAW and how it has been sustained through the years by the journalists working there, the PAW advisory board and the University.
“I was not looking to leave journalism. I was looking to practice a different brand of it, and I feel so fortunate to have an opportunity to do it with PAW,” he said.