Charles Lewis

Charles Lewis

Executive Editor
Phone: (202) 885-1997
charlesl@american.edu

Charles Lewis is a professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C., and the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton University, a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. 

A former ABC News and CBS News 60 Minutes producer, he founded two Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organizations, the award-winning, nonprofit Center for Public Integrity (1989) and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (1997), the first global network of premier investigative reporters to develop and publish online multimedia exposés across borders. The ICIJ published the Panama Papers in April 2016, its 26th cross border investigation. It is the largest collaboration in the history of journalism, involving a leaked cache of 11.5 million financial records, analyzed and reported by more than 370 journalists in 76 countries and published in over 100 newspapers around the world.

Under his leadership, the nonpartisan Center published roughly 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, from 1989 through 2004 and its major reporting projects were honored more than 30 times by national journalism organizations. In 1996, the New Yorker called the Center for Public Integrity “the center for campaign scoops.” For example, that year the Center published a report, "Fat Cat Hotel," which first revealed that the Clinton administration had been rewarding major donors with White House overnight stays in the “Lincoln Bedroom" (and others). In 2003, weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Center published secret, controversial draft Justice Department “Patriot II Act” legislation, and in October the Center/ICIJ posted all of the known U.S. war contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Windfalls of War" first identified that Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root had received the most money from those contracts, and it won the first George Polk Award for Internet Reporting.

He is the author of "935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity" (2014), and co-author of five Center books: "The Buying of the President" (1996), "The Buying of the Congress" (1998), "The Buying of the President" (2000), "The Cheating of America" (2001), and "The Buying of the President" 2004, a New York Times bestseller. 

Lewis was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, and in 2004, he was given the PEN USA First Amendment award “for expanding the reach of investigative journalism, for his courage in going after a story regardless of whose toes he steps on, and for boldly exercising his freedom of speech and freedom of the press.” In 2009, the Encyclopedia of Journalism called him “one of the 30 most notable investigative reporters in the U.S. since World War I.” In 2014, the Wall Street Journal observed, “With the founding of the Center for Public Integrity in the 1980s, Charles Lewis probably did more than anyone else to launch institutional nonprofit journalism in America.” 

 

Stories written by Charles Lewis

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

Inspiring international students

IRW Executive Editor Charles Lewis urged young journalists to get excited about the profession and to hold those in power accountable this month at a two-day, international conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.The Future News Worldwide conference was created by the British Council— the United Kingdom’s international organization for culture and education — and held earlier this month at the Scottish Parliament.

From the Pentagon Papers to Trump: How the government gained the upper hand against leakers

The Pentagon Papers helped shape legal and ethical standards for journalistic truth-telling on matters of top secret government affairs. Openness, in the eyes of the public and the courts, would usually prevail over government secrecy, shifting power from politicians back to citizens and news organizations. That balance of power is taking on a renewed significance today in the wake of Reality Winner’s alleged recent national security leak, prosecution of members of the press and anti-press and anti-leak rhetoric by the Trump administration.

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

TV viewership declines, diversity stalls in newsrooms

Revenue and audience trends for Hispanic- and black-oriented news outlets have mirrored closely the fluctuation of the industry overall, a recent Pew Research Center report found.


Survivors reflect on life after deadly bacterial infections

When FRONTLINE’s "Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria" premiered in 2013, Addie Rerecich and David Ricci were still struggling with the consequences of devastating antibiotic-resistant infections. Four years later, FRONTLINE and the Workshop caught up with the two survivors to find out how they were doing as part of an updated broadcast of the film tonight, July 25, 2017, nationwide on PBS. Check local listings.

Sinclair exemplifies consolidation concerns in TV news

Nearly 15 years ago, the five largest television companies owned about 180 of the country’s local news channels. Now, after years of dizzying buying sprees, mergers and billions of dollars spent, those companies own more than twice that — a pattern of consolidation that worries many, both within the industry and outside of it. 

More Republicans think negatively about higher ed

For the first time since Pew began tracking it, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58 percent) now say colleges “have a negative effect on the country.” That’s compared to 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say colleges and universities have a positive impact. Whatever the cause, colleges and universities now share in a dubious distinction: as some of the most divisive national institutions. The only other institution that, according to Pew, divides Americans more? The national news media. 


What We're Reading: Inspiring investigations

Recent investigative and longform work that has inspired our IRW summer interns.

Partners

Workshop Partners

We publish online and in print, often teaming up with other news organizations. We're working now on a new program with FRONTLINE producers, to air later in the year, and on the "Years of Living Dangerously," a series on climate change that has begun airing on Showtime. A story last year on the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention centers was co-published with The New York Times. Our updates to our long-running BankTracker project, in which you can view the financial health of every bank and credit union in the country, have been published with msnbc.com, now nbcnews.com, and we co-published stories in our What Went Wrong series on the economy with The Philadelphia Inquirer and New America Media. Our graduate students are working as researchers with Washington Post reporters, and our new senior editor is a member of the Post's investigative team. Learn more on our partners page.

Projects

Investigating Power update

Investigating Power update

Profiles of notable journalists and their stories of key moments in U.S. history in the last 50 years can be found on the Investigating Power site. See Workshop Executive Editor Charles Lewis' latest video interviews as well as historic footage and timelines. You can also read more about the project and why we documented these groundbreaking examples of original, investigative journalism that helped shape or change public perceptions on key issues of our time, from civil rights to Iraq, here.