About Paul @paulsolman
Paul Solman has been a business, economics and occasional art correspondent for the PBS NewsHour since 1985.
As you can see below, he used to have lots of hair. In the '60s, his father found it amusing to say, "you don't need a haircut so much as an estimate." His intramural softball teammates at Brandeis University dubbed him "the Black Medusa."
That same year, 1963, he joined the Brandeis newspaper, The Justice, and eventually became its editor. He got his first paid journalism job in 1970 at the alternative weekly Boston After Dark, where the picture was taken. Then and now, he did much of his work on the phone.
Paul became founding editor of the rival alternative weekly The Real Paper in 1972 and went on to become a feature writer and investigative reporter. He became interested in business when he set out to do a story about municipal bond rates (this was 1976) and realized he was clueless. As was, he realized, the entire booming generation in his wake. Here was an opportunity. But how to seize it? How about going to business school?
Having no money for tuition, Paul applied for a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and lucked out, joining the Harvard Business School MBA class of 1977-8. He embarked on a career as a business reporter at WGBH Boston immediately thereafter. It was about this time, as one grandchild later put it, "your hair got lost."
After a few years of local PBS reporting, he inaugurated the PBS business documentary series, ENTERPRISE with fellow Nieman Fellow Zvi Dor-Ner. (There was also a Nieman felon in their class, but that's for someone else's biography.)
In the 1980s, Paul produced documentaries, returned to local reporting, and joined the Harvard Business School faculty, teaching media, finance and business history in the school's Advanced Management Program. He also co-authored a better-than-average-seller, Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield (1983), which appeared in Japanese, German and a pirated Taiwanese edition. He joined "MacNeil/Lehrer" in 1985, two years after it become an hour-long news show, and has been the program's Economics Correspondent ever since, with occasional forays into art and sport.
In the '90s, with sociologist Morrie Schwartz, a teacher of his at Brandeis, Paul helped create -- and wrote the introduction to -- the book "Morrie: In His Own Words," which preceded "Tuesdays with Morrie" by a year or more, but failed to outsell it by several orders of magnitude.
In 2015, Paul co-authored an actual bestseller (#1 on Amazon for four straight days!), Get What's Yours: the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. It had to be revised in 2016 because Social Security provisions were changed, perhaps in response to the book.
Paul has lectured on college campuses since the '80s and has written for numerous publications, including the Journal of Economic Education. He thinks he's the only person, besides John Kenneth Galbraith, to have written for both Forbes and Mother Jones magazines; he was for years East Coast editor of the latter. A one-time cab driver, kindergarten teacher, crafts store co-owner and management consultant, he is also the author and presenter of "Discovering Economics with Paul Solman," a series of videos to accompany introductory economics textbooks.
In 2007, he joined the faculty at Yale, where he added a dose of communications know-how and economics to the university's Grand Strategy course for a decade. In 2011, he was the Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor at his alma mater, Brandeis, where he taught a seminar, "Economic Grand Strategies: From Chimps to Champs? Or Chumps?" He has lectured at campuses across the country, has taught regularly at West Point, and at Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT. In 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford University. He is also president of the new making-friends-across-the-political-divide group, "Us."
Paul took up tennis at 50 and plays with a knee brace. He'd like to shave off his mustache but is afraid to. He wears a hat because his doctor insists. He is married with children and grandchildren. He loves them to death.
Paul’s Recent Stories
Nation Apr 26On the road, and online: How the people that inspired “Nomadland” make a living
This past year was no traditional year for the movies - or for the Oscar awards. But there were excellent films and more diversity in the nominations. Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director for…
Making Sen$e Mar 29A look into Amazon’s employee conditions as the company pushes back against unionization
For almost two months, Amazon workers have been voting on whether to unionize at one of the company's major warehouses in Alabama. The voting concludes today. Since Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the country, the stakes are high…
Economy Mar 18As nationwide unemployment grows, Rhode Island steps in to help residents find work
This week marked the 52nd straight week of high unemployment claims, with numbers rising as more than a million people filed for state and emergency federal unemployment benefits across the country. One state, Rhode Island, is working to reverse that…
Economy Mar 12Black Americans and women continue to face discrimination in skilled trades
The winter storms that devastated Texas last month led to a major water crisis. But for weeks afterward, there weren't enough plumbers to help customers with the damage. All of this underscores the need for more of these skilled workers.
Making Sen$e Mar 03Millions of Americans saddled with student debt as debate continues over relief
As Washington debates how to provide economic aid during the pandemic, many say one critical component should be part of future deals: forgiving student debt. But determining how much could or should be forgiven is a complicated question. Paul Solman…
Economy Feb 18With millions looking for work, stigmas create a dearth of skilled tradespeople
Jobless claims were high again this past week with more than 860,000 people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time. Millions of people are still looking for work, but some employers say they can't find enough skilled workers for…
Making Sen$e Feb 03How unconventional trading led to turmoil on Wall Street
In late January, a handful of unlikely Wall Street stocks began skyrocketing in value, which has led to big market volatility. The spike was driven by an unconventional group of traders who had banded together on a buying spree, determined…
Nation Jan 22Trump leaves office facing mounting debt, devalued assets and scarcity of willing lenders
One of the consequences of the chaos of the U.S. Capitol is a distancing of banks and other business from former President Trump. He now faces a delicate and difficult situation with his businesses, debt and taxes. Paul Solman reports.
Economy Jan 14Businesses begin backing away from Republicans after Capitol attack
Since last week's riot at the Capitol, more and more companies are cutting ties with Donald Trump, and dozens of corporations suspended political contributions to the 147 members of Congress who refused to certify the election of Joe Biden. Paul…
Making Sen$e Nov 19For older workers, pandemic unemployment could be career-ending
The worsening pandemic continues to mean millions of Americans out of work. For older employees in particular, this kind of long-term unemployment can represent the end of a career -- especially when they may be facing age discrimination and bias.