Whitaker was named Washington Bureau Chief in July 2008, in addition to his role as Senior Vice President for NBC News. He oversees all bureau management, administration and editorial guidance, as well as serving as an occasional on-air analyst. His day-to-day responsibilities also include executive supervision of “Meet the Press,” as well as of all of NBC News’ network election and political coverage.
Prior to joining NBC in 2007, Whitaker served as Editor at Newsweek from 1998-2006, becoming the first African-American top editor of a national newsmagazine. During his tenure, the newsweekly published its best-selling issues of all time, had years of record profitability, and received more editorial awards than at any other time in its history. Among these were four National Magazine Awards, including ones for General Excellence, the industry’s highest prize, in 2002 for coverage of 9/11, and in 2004 for coverage of the Iraq war. In 2005 Mediaweek named Whitaker and Greg Osberg, Newsweek’s worldwide publisher, the magazine industry’s “Executive Team of the Year.”
Whitaker also oversaw the growth of Newsweek’s web site, which is affiliated with NBC News’ MSNBC.com. Its awards included Editor & Publisher’s “EPpy” award for best newsmagazine web site and the MIN “Best of the Web Award” for Best National Magazine-Affiliated Web Site.
From October 2006 until May 2007, Whitaker served as Corporate Editor of Newsweek and Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of New Ventures at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, overseeing creative development of new online and multimedia ventures for the digital division of the Washington Post Company.
Widely respected in the journalism community, Whitaker served as President of the American Society of Magazine Editors from 2004 - 2006. He’s a current board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists, as well as a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Before becoming its top editor, Whitaker served as a reporter, writer and editor for Newsweek for two decades. He started his career as a reporting summer intern and stringer, working in bureaus in San Francisco, Boston, Washington, London and Paris. He became business editor in 1987. As an assistant managing editor and then managing editor from 1991 to 1998, Whitaker helped oversee coverage that included the first Gulf War, the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996, the 1994 Winter Olympics and the World Cup.
Whitaker graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1979 and studied international relations at Oxford University’s Balliol College as a Marshall Scholar. He is married to Alexis Gelber, Newsweek’s director of special projects. They have two children.