On December 17, 2014, David Ariosto packed a bag for Havana. After months of secret negotiations, what began as a prisoner swap had turned into the most historic shift in relations between Cuba and the United States in more than half-a-century. But as he waited with his team in Miami, it still was not clear whether their journalist visas would arrive in time to cover the news. Nevertheless, he had to find a way to get back to Cuba.
For the last 20 years, that kind of narrative has played out in different forms over the course of his career as a journalist, editor, executive, and author, working in more than 40 countries. It also informed the kind of leadership role he would later assume in building out news companies, at times from the start-up phase.
He is currently the Head of Editorial for Intelligence Squared US, a debate series working to restore reasoned analysis and constructive discourse. Formerly Executive Producer for GZERO Media at Eurasia Group, and Managing Editor at Brut media, the latter grew by more than 1,600% in subscribership and 1,200% in video views in just over a year, quickly becoming among the top 4 US news publishers on Facebook. Part of what engendered that explosive growth was a commitment to excellence in story-telling, honed over the years at more traditional media outlets, such as CNN, National Geographic, and National Public Radio, where he served as the supervising producer that led NPR's flagship news show, "All Things Considered," and managed more than 30 journalists. And yet what led him there began with freelancing gigs on shoe-string budgets, culminating into a journalism career that included reporting stints in Afghanistan, Mexico, China, Washington D.C. and Cuba.
Between 2009 and 2010, Ariosto was based in Havana, Cuba for CNN. From there, he moved to New York City and worked at an editor at CNN Digital before helping launch Al Jazeera America in 2013. There, he reported from across the globe, including Russia, Venezuela and Haiti to Eastern Europe and the high Arctic. During those trips, Ariosto led production of three widely-acclaimed hour-long special reports: ‘The New Cold War;’ ‘Haiti: On Shaky Ground;’ and ‘Iran: Behind The Deal,’ and later oversaw a student-led documentary at Arizona State University on the growing crisis of youth suicide, entitled "Life is..."
A visiting professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Ariosto is a board member of the Overseas Press Club and the author of the St. Martin’s Press publication, “This is Cuba: An American Journalist Under Castro’s Shadow.” He is currently writing his second book, which explores the science, technology, and key players and nations behind the next space race. This book also serves as the basis for an upcoming major documentary series .