I’m a magazine writer and two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award.

People often ask me what kinds of articles I write. The answer is, “all kinds.” I’m a generalist, not a specialist; I do not have a beat. I write long, deeply reported feature-length magazine articles; the occasional essay (sometimes purely personal, sometimes topical and reported); and the occasional service piece or package (which I used to do a lot more of). I’ve written about crime, health, business, law enforcement, nuclear-weapons workers, immigration, urban mountain lions, drug policy, travel, adventure sports, and a range of people who do, or have done, interesting things.

My work has appeared in, Backpacker, Budget Travel, Details,, GQ, Inc., Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Mountain magazine, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine,, Skiing, Sports Afield, Sports Illustrated Women,, Wired, 5280 (Denver’s city magazine), and others.

I received a grant from The Investigative Fund to report on mentally ill criminal offenders who have been released under AB 109, a bill that’s meant to address prison overcrowding in California. Here’s the article, which I wrote for

GQ asked me to go to super-producer Rick Rubin’s house to learn how to listen to a song. Here’s what happened.

Mountain Lions in L.A.? You betcha! Read about them in my November 2013 Los Angeles magazine feature, “Ghost Cat.” Click here if you’d like to hear me talk about the article on KPCC (public radio) and click here if you’d like to read a Q&A about the piece for the magazine’s website.

Illegal pot farms in L.A.? Right again! Read about it in “Grass Roots” in the September 2013 issue of Los Angeles magazine. Click here to listen to a KPCC interview about the story.

Finalist, 2012 National Magazine Award in the Reporting category for “What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?” (Los Angeles magazine, September 2011) Click here to see a list of finalists.

Finalist, 2012 WPA Maggie Award in the Feature Writing category for “Undocs in the Shining City” (Mountain Magazine)

Finalist, 2008 National Magazine Award in the Public Interest category for “Out in the Cold” (Denver’s 5280 magazine, November 2007).

Click here to view the list of finalists and winners.

Inclusion in Best American Magazine Writing 2008.
Click here to purchase a copy.

Winner, 2008 City and Regional Magazine Award in the Civic Journalism category
Click here to view CRMA’s homepage, which lists other winners and finalists.

Winner, 2008 WPA Maggie Award for Feature Writing
Click here to view the list of finalists and winners.
Finalist, 2008 Northwestern University’s Medill John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism. Click here to view the list of finalists and winners.

Winner (bronze!), 2007 City and Regional Magazine Awards in the Profile-writing category for “A Leg to Stand On” (5280, December, 2006). Click here to read the story.

Notable list of Best American Sports Writing 2006 for “Free Fall” (Skiing, December 2005).
Click here to read the story.

I mostly write these days, but I do some editing, too. I’ve spent about half of my career as a staff or freelance editor, working on tight, bright, front-of-book sections, long and complicated narrative features, department-length reports, personal essays, humor/commentary, book excerpts, and service copy/packages of virtually every kind. I’ve edited several award-nominated articles and worked with dozens of authors and journalists both up-and-coming and well-known. Some editorial highlights:

Articles Editor and Editor-at-Large of 5280, Denver’s city magazine (2006-2008)

Gold Medal (as co-editor) at the 2007 City and Regional Magazine Awards in the Leisure/Lifestyle Interests category for a fun package about dogdom in Denver. Here’s an essay I wrote for that package; it’s about my small, very cool dogs.

Executive Editor at Skiing magazine (Boulder, CO; 2003-2006)

Founding editor and Editor-in-Chief of No Boundaries, an adventure-travel magazine that won a WPA Maggie Award for Best Quarterly in 2002.

Staff editor at Outside magazine (Santa Fe, NM; 1996-1998)

In 2010, I did a late-round edit of Tracy Ross’s well-received memoir, “The Source of All Things.”.

In 2011 I taught a narrative journalism course at UCLA Extension. Here’s what some of my students had to say:

“This course is the best that I have taken.” “…More courses like this, and teachers like Kessler.” “…Very positive; he believes in students’ potential and is a motivator.” “This is the best class I’ve taken in the [UCLA Ext.] journalism program! I feel like I’ve made huge strides just in these 10 weeks. This class is the perfect blend of writing development and practical suggestions for pitching and launching your career.” “We got to discuss the story process with so many accomplished writers…”  ”Very accessible and supportive.” “Mike is an amazing teacher, incredibly passionate and helpful. I’ve never had a teacher go out of his way so much to help give extra input, reading suggestions, and instructions above and beyond what was required for class.”

Check back here or with UCLA Extension’s website to see if/when I’m teaching again.

Way back in 2000-2001, I co-developed/-produced/-wrote “No Boundaries,” a 4-part (4-hour) documentary TV series about outdoor sports and adventure travel. It aired on the Fox Network in 2000 and was later re-run by Outdoor Life Network.

I also wrote the narrative voiceover copy for an episode of a Tech TV series called “Wired for Sex.”