The Detroit Free Press announced today the appointment of Nicole Avery Nichols as executive editor. A seasoned journalist and media executive with more than three decades of newsroom experience, Nichols most recently served as editor in chief at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization focused on education in America.
Nichols began her journalism career at the Utica Observer-Dispatch, and has held positions at The Syracuse Newspapers, Detroit News, and the Free Press.
During her 20-year tenure at the Free Press, starting as a reporter and including positions as features editor, current affairs editor and senior news director, Nichols supervised a diverse roster of award-winning editors and journalists covering a broad spectrum of beats, including courts and corruption, immigration, religion, public health, gender equity, restaurants, race, travel, popular culture, politics, and entertainment.
She also led efforts to shape coverage of some of the most impactful local stories, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, Flint water crisis, the “Me Too” movement, the attempted kidnapping plot against the Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and the racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd.
“I firmly believe in centering people and their experiences within the heart of journalism, and I am thrilled to be leading one of America’s most powerful newsrooms as we tell the stories that matter most,” Nichols said. “I look forward to engaging new audiences amid our ever-changing and diversifying media landscape.”
In her previous role as the top editor at Chalkbeat, a division of Civic News Company, Nichols was responsible for newsroom operations including content and engagement initiatives produced by a national reporting team, as well as local bureaus based in Detroit, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Indiana, Chicago, Tennessee and Colorado.
“Nicole’s deep knowledge of the local issues most important to Detroit-area residents, combined with a fearless and unflinching commitment to journalism that is essential in the communities we serve, makes her the perfect fit for the Free Press,” said Kristin Roberts, chief content officer at Gannett and the USA TODAY Network. “I am confident that under Nicole’s leadership, the Free Press will deliver exclusive and solutions-focused journalism that our readers, viewers and listeners want.”
Nichols holds a master’s degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and completed her undergraduate studies at Tuskegee University. She is also an active member of the Detroit National Association of Black Journalists.