NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt: ‘We Have to Fill In the Blanks Every Day of What You Didn’t Get in That Text News Alert’

By Mark Mwachiro 

Lester Holt knows we are in an age of information overload, which makes the changes to his NBC Nightly News broadcast all the more necessary.

Holt, in May, took his newscast on the road, reporting from South Florida, where he provided on-the-ground coverage on issues affecting Fort Myers and Miami. This form of news presentation and the recent addition of a commentary section toward the end of his news program is by design and are a reflection that he is looking for new ways to engage with his audience.

Holt recognizes that his viewing audience increasingly likely to get its information digitally. He recently received the Hollywood Reporter profile treatment, and said the role of his newscast is to “fill in the blanks every day of what you didn’t get in that text news alert.”


NBC News is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Nightly News this year, with Holt holding fort as its main anchor since June 2015, with the title of managing editor being added in April 2021.

Holt, in that profile, also talked about how the election periods are blending into each other with no off period, saying, “We used to think of this as the bye year, but there is no time off. We are into it. I always think the challenge in covering any election is to try and get the candidates to reveal themselves. And that’s really the most important thing.”

He discussed what a debate would look like with him as a moderator, saying he wouldn’t alter the current format adding, “It’s a big crowd on that stage, and you are really wanting them to reveal themselves.”

When it comes to his work on Dateline, Holt says that there is an appetite for true crime reporting adding that “Dateline does it really well” and that not all stories he works on focus on true crime. He cited his report on mass incarceration at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola, Louisiana, as an example of the show branching out to cover stories beyond true crime.

He mentions that when he wants to detox from the news cycle, his go-to is techno-thrillers and that his band The Rough Cuts, which also comprises Dateline video editors, may have started performing during a holiday get-together, “and a bunch of us decided to sing Christmas carols,” he said. “I play the bass, and someone said, “I play the drums,” and suddenly it was like, “We’ve got a singer. We could do this.”