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 International Airport, 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 17 years, that kind of narrative has played out in different forms over the course of his career as a journalist, working in more than 40 countries. It also informed the kind of leadership role he would later assume in building out news shows and news companies from the start-up phase.
He is currently the Head of Editorial for Intelligence Squared, a debate series working to restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse, and a visiting professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He was formerly a Senior Consultant and Executive Producer for GZERO Media at Eurasia Group, and Managing Editor at Brut media. While at Brut, the company increased followers by 1,600% and video views by 1,200% in just over a year, quickly becoming among the top 4 US news publishers on Facebook. Part of what engendered that explosive growth, beyond audience development strategies, is a commitment to excellence in story-telling, honed over the years at more traditional media outlets, such as CNN, Al Jazeera, 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 radio 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 CNN Digital and CNN’s Business Unit 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..."
He also worked as a supervising producer at National Geographic, as well as Reuters, where he covered the 2016 presidential elections and other major news topics. Ariosto is a board member of the Overseas Press Club and holds a Master’s of Public Policy degree from George Mason University and a Bachelor’s of History degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is also the author of the St. Martin’s Press publication, “This is Cuba: An American Journalist Under Castro’s Shadow.”