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Jeffrey Dean Zeleny (born June 10, 1973) is a Senior White House Correspondent for CNN. He previously was Senior Washington Correspondent for ABC News. During his newspaper career, he won a Pulitzer Prize with the Chicago Tribune.

Jeff Zeleny
Jeff Zeleny.jpg
Jeff Zeleny in 2009
Jeffrey Dean Zeleny

(1973-06-10) June 10, 1973 (age 46)
EducationExeter High School, Nebraska
Alma materUniversity of Nebraska
Years active1996–present
Known forSenior White House Correspondent for CNN

Early lifeEdit

Jeffrey Dean Zeleny was born on June 10, 1973, in Exeter, Nebraska,[1][2] the son of Diane Naomi (née Yeck) and Robert Dean Zeleny. He has two older brothers, James Robert Zeleny and Michael Jon Zeleny, and was raised with them on the family farm.

His ancestry on both sides of his family is Czech, with most of his ancestors coming from Bohemia and some from Moravia.[3] Zeleny is the Czech word for "green."

Zeleny is also openly gay.[4]


Zeleny was educated at Exeter High School,[5] a public high school in the small town of Exeter, Nebraska. As a student, he contributed sports stories to the York News-Times in neighboring York County.

Zeleny attended the University of Nebraska, where he studied journalism and political science. He graduated in 1996.[2] While at the university, he was the editor of the Daily Nebraskan, the school's newspaper.[6] He also played trumpet in the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band.[7]


After interning for newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, the Florida Times-Union and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in college, Zeleny started working for The Des Moines Register in 1996.[8] Although he originally planned to be a sports reporter, the importance of the Iowa caucuses led to him becoming a political specialist.[9]

In 2000, he left to write for The Chicago Tribune.[6] He covered the presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 for the paper.[6] While at the Tribune, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for his work on a series about air traffic control problems nationwide.[10]

In 2006, The New York Times hired him to cover politics, and he covered the 2012 presidential election for the paper, while being their lead reporter.[2][6] At President Barack Obama's 100-day press conference in April 2009, Zeleny received attention from media blogs for asking President Obama how he was "surprised, troubled, enchanted, and humbled" during his first days in office.[11]

Zeleny was hired in February 2013 by ABC News to be their senior Washington correspondent and to file stories for the website.[2] He joined CNN in March 2015, and in January 2017 was named Senior White House Correspondent.[12]


  1. ^ University of Wisconsin–River Falls (November 18, 2010). "Jeff Zeleny, New York Times Political Correspondent". University of Wisconsin–River Falls. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Staff(s). "Jeff Zeleny". ABC Medianet. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  3. ^ "Ancestry of Jeffrey Dean Zeleny". 2016.
  4. ^ "America's Top Gays On Campaign Trail". 2008.
  5. ^ "Exeter graduate starts firestorm". 28 March 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Crowl, Jonathan (October 31, 2008). "New York Times reporter, ex-DN editor Zeleny keeps busy on road covering Obama campaign". Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  7. ^ "A Campaign Trail Nomad Rooted in Nebraska". Omaha Magazine. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Jeff Zeleny". University of Nebraska. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  9. ^ Laukaitis, Algis (25 February 2013). "Exeter native named correspondent for ABC News". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Jeff Zeleny". Reporter's Info. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  11. ^ Jackson, David (30 April 2009). "Your thoughts on the 'enchanted' question for Obama?". USA Today. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  12. ^ "CNN Announces Washington Correspondent Assignments". CNN. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.

External linksEdit