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 previously 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 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

Recent News

Brain boosters a gold mine for supplements industry but benefits are hotly disputed

The Government Accountability Office is investigating the marketing of brain and memory supplements and the problems regulators face in reining in misleading claims. The GAO examination was requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., formerly the ranking minority member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging. She has called out retailers for deceptive promotions of memory and brain supplements, and sees regulatory oversight of the supplement industry as “alarmingly inadequate.”

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

Asian journalists wrestle with new rules

Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea news organizations face new challenges online as their governments now include internet activity in their regulatory structures. What used to be a niche for independent media has instead become a new battleground for freedom of expression. 

Seven signs Cuban media is moving toward openness

While it’s too soon to tell if a true sea change is in the works, here are seven relatively recent shifts in the Cuban mediasphere. Many of them would have seemed inconceivable just a few years ago and bear watching in the future.

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

Summer 2017 interns

We're looking for talented student journalists to join our team in the summer of 2017.  Positions include researchers/reporters, data journalists and video editors. Application deadline is Feb. 15.

Russia's disinformation strategy

Louise Lief, our scholar in residence, writes about Russia's manipulation of news and information, not only in the recent U.S. elections but also in other countries as well. 

Remembrances

Charles Lewis and Gordon Witkin reflect on the lives and careers of Phillip Knightley and David Donald, two renowned investigative journalists who died earlier this month. Knightley was well-known for his work on holding drug manufacturers accountable for the widespread use of the drug thalidomide, which caused birth defects across Europe. Donald was one of the pioneers and leaders of modern, computer-assisted data journalism. You can see their tributes here on the ICIJ website.

Remembering David Donald

David Donald died Dec. 10, 2016 after a yearlong battle with cancer. In January, the Workshop will host an event to remember his life and work, and IRE will honor him by creating a fund in his name to further data journalism.

Charles Lewis travels to Oxford

Executive Editor Charles Lewis will travel to a conference at Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism to talk about the future of investigative journalism and collaboration. 

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.