THE CITY Announces New Executive Director

Nicholas Dawes, a veteran journalist and former deputy executive director for Human Rights Watch, joins the award-winning New York City nonprofit news site

Nicholas Dawes starts as THE CITY’s executive director Jan. 4.

NEW YORK, NY — Nicholas Dawes has been named the new executive director of THE CITY (, an award-winning, nonprofit digital news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York, the news site announced Wednesday. Dawes, who most recently served as a deputy executive director at Human Rights Watch following a two-decade journalism career, will begin at THE CITY Jan. 4.

During his time at Human Rights Watch, Dawes led the organization across research, publishing, operations and fundraising, with focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion, editorial standards and digital transformation. Dawes previously served as the chief editorial and content officer for Hindustan Times, India’s second largest English-language newspaper, and as editor in chief of the Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian, one the leading independent newspapers in Africa. 

Since its launch in April 2019, THE CITY’s team of 20 journalists, under founding editor in chief Jere Hester, has produced high-impact stories on City Hall, public housing, the transit system and other areas, while providing essential coverage of the health crisis and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Averaging a million monthly views in 2020, the nonpartisan news organization shines a light on critical local issues and holds public officials to account. 

“It is hard to imagine a place more in need of robust local journalism than New York City as it grapples with the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the compound pre-existing conditions of inequality, racial injustice and climate vulnerability,” said Dawes. “There’s no outlet better suited than THE CITY to cover these issues and hold those in power accountable.” 

“We are thrilled to welcome Nic to THE CITY. He has spent his distinguished career helping media companies expand their reach and broaden their impact,” said Jamie Alter Lynton, chair of THE CITY’s board of directors. “Democracy depends on local journalism, and Nic’s deep understanding of our mission, along with his breadth of experience position him perfectly to lead us into a new phase of growth.” 

The search was a rigorous and inclusive process conducted by a recruitment firm, and a board committee that sought input from newsroom staff.

Dawes succeeds publisher John Wotowicz, who ended his two-year tenure last week after leading THE CITY through its successful launch. 

As executive director of THE CITY, Dawes will work closely with Hester to expand the site’s reach and impact as it delivers on its mission of producing high-quality accountability reporting. Dawes will also lead the organization’s revenue growth strategy and manage all aspects of business operations.

“Nic is a world-class leader in the journalism and nonprofit spheres,” Hester said. “I can’t wait to work with him and the rest of our team to build upon the great base we’ve formed since our debut last year. We’re entering 2021 primed to take THE CITY to new heights.” 

In less than two years, THE CITY has experienced tremendous growth and has received more than 25 local and national awards, notching honors from Editor & Publisher’s EPPY Awards, the Online News Association, the National LION Publishers Awards and the New York Press Club, among others.

THE CITY became a go-to site during the pandemic with the advent of the award-winning Coronavirus in New York City Tracker and robust coverage of COVID-19’s impact on the five boroughs.  

THE CITY’s coverage has also generated significant impact in the realms of accountability and action — driving the impending end of solitary confinement in city-run jails, sparking reforms in the Department of Education to better serve children with special needs, and spurring investigations into unsafe conditions in public housing.

“The need for new models of public interest journalism, rooted in local communities, committed to a rich, democratic, public conversation and open to innovation, has never been greater,” Dawes said. “I’m honored to join THE CITY and to build on the extraordinary foundation the team has already created.”

ABOUT THE CITY: THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York. Our reporters pound the pavement in all five boroughs, working with New Yorkers to tell their stories and make their lives better. We’re here to listen to New Yorkers, dig into their concerns and deliver stories that drive the public conversation and set the agenda on key issues. At a time when the media has been upended by technological, economic and political shifts, we want to reconnect people back to local news — and reconnect local news to getting action.

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