Skip to content

Tony Dokoupil

Senior Writer, NBC News

Tony Dokoupil is a senior writer for NBC News and the author of The Last Pirate (Doubleday, April 2014), a book about a father, his son, and the golden age of marijuana.

Over the years, his reporting has made The Daily Show (the moment of zen) and The Tonight Show (the opening monologue), and generated guest spots on CNN, NPR, MSNBC and The Today Show. His writing—which has recreated drug smuggling, hate crimes, suicides, and free sperm donations (not a euphemism)—has garnered attention from the good people at Longform, Byliner, and Longreads.

HBO awarded a development grant to turn his story “The Devil in Deryl Dedmon” into a documentary film, and NPR's Fresh Air made his piece "The New Pot Barons" into an hour long program. His earlier cover story “The Coffee Shop Baby” became a 30-minute segment on ABC’s 20/20, and his profile of the antiquities-hunter Forrest Fenn helped push the man’s hidden treasure into the pantheon of findable millions. His 2009 story “My Father the Dope Dealer” was bought by Doubleday, and the accompanying video was a "Must See" pick of the New York Times Lens blog.

His work has taken him to more than a dozen states and into interviews with a $10,000-a-day corporate psychic, the last surviving veteran of World War I, and the only black father in Baltimore to adopt a white girl. It has included training as a private astronaut, diving to the bottom of the Pacific, and living inside the last wholly company town in America. His past characters include the reclusive author of the Anarchist Cookbook, defrocked mega-pastor Ted Haggard, and (via an exclusive cache of letters) the would-be savior of humanity, L. Ron Hubbard.

Previously, as a senior writer at Newsweek & The Daily Beast, he wrote numerous cover stories, including "The Suicide Epidemic," "iCrazy" and "Dustoff 73," which helped anchor the first annual Hero Summit in Washington, DC. His story “The Last Dive" and the original video became Newsweek's first animated cover.

Dokoupil was one of two staff writers in Newsweek's Periscope section, which was nominated for a 2008 National Magazine Award for best stand-alone department. Later he edited a weekly page of idea-driven news and the My Turn column. Dokoupil joined Newsweek part-time in the summer of 2006, working as a researcher in the international edition before moving to the domestic arts section as a full-time reporter. Prior to Newsweek, he co-wrote the “Research Report” column for the Columbia Journalism Review. His freelance work has appeared in Radar, W, and GQ.

He received his B.B.A. summa cum laude from George Washington University, where—and this just sounds immodest no matter what—he graduated first in his class. He was also captain of the baseball team, which it must be said is terrible now but wasn’t when he was there, he swears. He holds a masters degree in American Studies from Columbia University, and earned a fellowship towards a PhD in media studies before dropping out after two years to pursue journalism.