USA TODAY US Edition
Former editor Hillkirk exits USA TODAY after 33 years Roger Yu
Began as business reporter when paper was founded in 1982
Investigative team editor and former editor in chief John Hillkirk will leave USA TODAY at the end of November, concluding a 33-year tenure at the publication.
John Kelly, currently data and joint investigations editor at USA TODAY Network, will replace Hillkirk in overseeing the investigative and data team.
Hillkirk has worked at the Gannett-owned USA TODAY since 1982, when the newspaper was founded. He started as a business reporter and rose through the ranks to hold several top jobs at the publication.
He was managing editor of the Money section for nine years and was named the paper’s executive editor in 2004.
In his executive editor role, he oversaw areas such as the News, Money, Life, Sports and Travel sections, as well as put a strong emphasis on enterprise reporting. In 2009, he was promoted to editor in chief.
After about three years as editor in chief, he transitioned to a role overseeing investigations. In the role of managing editor of investigations, Hillkirk oversees a team of investigative reporters and database editors that has won 56 national awards since 2012.
“His career is studded with journalism awards, reporting campaigns that led to change that made our country better, and the legacy of hundreds of journalists who sought his advice and counsel over the years, including me,” USA TODAY Editor in Chief David Callaway wrote Tuesday in a staff email announcing Hillkirk’s departure.
Hillkirk has also co-written three books: Xerox: American Samurai; Grit, Guts & Genius:
True Tales of Mega-Success; and A Better Idea: Redefining the Way Americans Work, which was about Ford Motor.
Redefining the Way Americans Work, co-written with former Ford CEO Don Petersen, was born of a reportorial mishap that reporters dread. Hillkirk had interviewed Petersen for about three hours for a story, only to lose his interview notes in a car break-in.
Petersen agreed to another inperson interview, and they developed a working relationship that resulted in the book.
“Something (Petersen) said always stuck with me,” Hillkirk said. “That you should re-pod yourself.”
Hillkirk plans to remain in the journalism field and says he will look for new opportunities in the area of investigative journalism. He is also interested in writing another book or possibly a screenplay.
“It’s important to have chapters in life,” he said.