NBC News Executive Editor David Firestone Is Retiring After 45 Years in Journalism

By A.J. Katz 

NBC News Digital executive editor David Firestone is retiring in mid-May after 45 years in the journalism business, the last five of them at NBC.

Firestone joined NBC News on May 1, 2017. He first served as managing editor for NBC News Digital and was promoted to executive editor in March of last year. Prior to joining NBC News, Firestone spent two years as managing editor at Nate Silver‘s FiveThirtyEight, where he focused on politics, particularly the 2016 presidential cycle. Prior to that, he spent 21 years as a reporter and editor at The New York Times. Firestone had been deputy editor on the national and metro desks at the Times—and the lead editor on the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Prior to the Times, Firestone worked at newspapers in Dallas and in Kansas City, where he grew up.


Below, a memo global digital news svp Catherine Kim sent to her staff on Thursday:


After five years of nonstop, meteoric growth for NBC News Digital, David Firestone recently shared with me his plans to retire this spring, after 45 years in the journalism business. He leaves the team in the best shape it’s ever been and full of promise for a rich future.


I still vividly recall the first time I met David–opting to meet and interview him in a neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn rather than 30 Rock. I loved his background as a reporter turned editor for The New York Times, the fact that he spent years working as a reporter in Kansas City and Dallas and later for The Times in Atlanta, Washington and New York. His career at The Times included editing positions on the metro desk, the national desk and the editorial board, and, in a trivia favorite for some of us, he was also a one-time Queens bureau chief.


Following his 21-year run at The Times, David helped build the newsroom at the digital start-up FiveThirtyEight. “What a coup,” I thought, if he’d come to work for NBC News and how lucky for us that he did. Back then, we had a few dozen reporters and editors in total. Today, we have many times that, after hiring dozens of the country’s top reporters in a growth spurt that is drawing attention and envy across the industry.


Over the last five years, we’ve added a breaking news team, a science and tech desk, a data/viz unit, an option section, a copydesk, an internet culture and trends team and an enterprise desk that other journalism organizations clamor to partner with. We’ve expanded our politics and general assignment desks, hiring reporters around the country to cover their regions, bolstering our London team and expanding into Asia. Our four verticals cover underserved communities better than any other large news organization. He and ‘we’ have come a long way together, having doubled our audience during David’s tenure.


Thankfully, David is giving us ample time to look for a successor – an executive editor who will lead ambitious journalists to produce world-class journalism for millions within a news organization that can distribute and amplify that reporting across NBC News’ many powerful platforms. Suffice it to say, Noah, Chris and I have high ambitions for the next leader to fill this role.


In David’s words: ”It’s time to let someone else come in and take the team forward, to add to the foundation we have built for one of the highest-quality news sites in the country. I’m looking forward to traveling with Susan and our family, and to spend time with our new grandson, but I can’t wait to read the great journalism that this team is going to produce in the years to come.”


His last day will be sometime in May, but until then, let’s make sure to send David off in style with toasts, roasts and many more scoops, ahead!