As we continue to realign our newsroom and resources to better serve our audiences, we are pleased to announce that Vickie Walton-James will become Acting Managing Editor for News and Ammad Omar will become Chief National Editor. Vickie and Ammad will assume their new roles on July 25th.
Vickie is one of the most talented and experienced journalists in our newsroom. NPR's Chief National Editor since 2014, she is a skilled leader who brings insight, empathy and curiosity to the job.
Ammad, most recently, has been the Deputy National Editor for the West, based in Culver City. In addition to overseeing coverage of the American West, Ammad has expertly edited two of our busiest and most consequential beats—immigration and reproductive rights.
In her new role, Vickie will help manage the daily news report alongside Managing Editor Gerry Holmes. She will report to Executive Editor Terence Samuel. During this assignment she will take over day-to-day supervision of several of our newsgathering desks from Terry — National, Washington and Culture.
As National Editor, Vickie has overseen a team of more than 50 reporters, editors and producers based in Washington and in bureaus across the country, in a tenure marked by outstanding, award-winning coverage.
She has ably guided our coverage through times of intense tumult and change. That has included the 2016 election; a movement for racial justice spurred by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the upheaval of January 6th. The desk deftly pivoted to cover the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways it reached into every facet of our lives.
As the criminal justice team expanded to meet the moment, so too, did coverage of addiction; reproductive rights; race and identity; and national security, including the addition of correspondents dedicated to domestic extremism and cybersecurity coverage. And the desk created signature work with deeply experienced reporters and editors telling the regional stories others often miss.
Vickie joined NPR in 2008 after an impressive newspaper career. Her last job in that industry was as Senior Washington Editor for Tribune Publishing, where she coordinated the convergence of print, digital and television coverage. Before that, she was the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune, a post she assumed days after 9/11. Vickie began her journalism career reporting and editing at the Kansas City Star.
Anyone who knows Vickie knows one of the great joys of her life, after her family, is basketball, particularly when played by her beloved University of Kansas Jayhawks, the reigning NCAA Men's champions. If you don't know how to "wave the wheat," KU-style, Vickie will gladly demonstrate.
From Vickie: "For the past 14 years, I've been a part of the National Desk, an incredibly talented and dedicated group of reporters, producers, correspondents and editors who work hard to tell the stories of this nation. I'm excited about the opportunity to work with more journalists across our newsroom in the days ahead."
Ammad Omar Promoted to Chief National Editor
Ammad got his start in public radio at WBEZ in Chicago, where he worked as an intern, freelance reporter, host, producer, and editor, eventually overseeing the station's daily news coverage. During his time in Chicago, Ammad covered or witnessed no fewer than one senator reaching the White House, two governors being sent to prison, and countless passionate repudiations of putting ketchup on a hot dog.
His first assignment at NPR was as an editor for Tell Me More with Michel Martin, before working at Morning Edition, and then All Things Considered, Weekends.
He has worked on the National Desk for the last three and a half years - starting as a Supervising Editor, and then moving to Southern California to serve as Deputy National Editor for the West, and the network's editorial lead at NPR West in Culver City.
Over the years, Ammad has developed a reputation as a thoughtful mentor for newer staffers and a sounding board for veterans.
"I couldn't be more honored to continue working with the great journalists who make up the National Desk, and the hundreds of member stations journalists across the country who help us cover an unbelievably wide range of important issues. I'm excited to look for new ways to serve our audience, working hand-in-hand with NPR's legendary shows and powerhouse podcasts."
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the mentorship of people like Vickie Walton-James and Michel Martin, or the brilliance of the reporters, producers, and editors who make me look good on a regular basis!"
The changes mean that in our ongoing effort to listen to and sound like America, a diehard Michigan fan replaces a diehard Kansas fan as NPR's top editor on national news: We will continue to have the Midwest solidly covered.
Please join us in congratulating Vickie and Ammad.