Charles Lewis

Charles Lewis

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

A bestselling author and national investigative journalist for the past 30 years, Charles Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism and since 2008 the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. He is the founder of The Center for Public Integrity and several other nonprofit organizations. 

He left a successful career as an investigative producer for ABC News and the CBS News program 60 Minutes and began the Center from his home, growing it to a full-time staff of 40 people. Under his leadership, the nonpartisan Center published roughly 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, from 1989 through 2004, and these major reporting projects were honored more than 30 times by national journalism organizations. His fifth and last co-authored book with the Center staff, The Buying of the President 2004 (HarperCollins/Perennial) was a New York Times bestseller.

In 1996, the New Yorker called The Center for Public Integrity “the center for campaign scoops.” For example, that year Lewis and the Center issued 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.” In 2003, weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Center posted secret draft “Patriot II” legislation, and in October the Center 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.  

Since 1992, Lewis has traveled and spoken publicly in 25 countries on six continents. In late 1997, he began the Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the world’s first working network of now 175 premier reporters in more than 60 countries producing content across borders. And that made www.publicintegrity.org the “first global website devoted to international exposés.”

In 2005, Lewis co-founded Global Integrity, an independent, nonprofit organization utilizing journalists and social scientists to track governance and corruption trends around the world. And from 2005 through 2008, he served as founding president of the Fund for Independence in Journalism in Washington, an endowment and legal defense support organization for the Center for Public Integrity. During that time, he also was a consultant on access to information issues to the Carter Center in Atlanta, a Ferris Professor at Princeton University and a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University. 

Lewis, once described as “a watchdog in the corridors of power” by the National Journal, was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1998. And in 2004, PEN USA, the respected literary organization, gave its First Amendment award to Lewis, “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 cited Lewis as “one of the 30 most notable investigative reporters in the U.S. since World War I.”

Read more of Charles Lewis' earlier work.

Stories written by Charles Lewis

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

'Future of Truth'

'Future of Truth'

Charles Lewis, founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop, wrote “935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity,” which will be published June 24, 2014, by Public Affairs. The Workshop also will run a special series related to the book.

Navigating FOIA in DC

Access to government documents and data is essential to local investigative “street” reporting and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the most important tool to get them, say journalists in the D.C. community. 

 

Most Recent Posts

'Measuring impact' wins SPJ award

Measuring Impact: The art, science and mystery of nonprofit news assessment,” has won a 2013 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in the "Research about Journalism"  category. 

'Years' project airs in April

 “Years of Living Dangerously,” a nine-part documentary on climate change created by executive producers James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub, has begun its run on Showtime. Senior Producer Margaret Ebrahim and Associate Producer Jolie Lee worked for more than a year to research, report and produce two stories for the series. 

Sunshine Week events in Washington

Here's the rundown on several panels, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom of information resources taking place in Washington this week. 

How to find stories on fraud

A free workshop hosted by the Reynolds Center for Business Reporting offered plenty of tips for how reporters can better develop enterprise stories about corporate fraud.

Learning how to make the most of our data at NICAR

At this year's annual NICAR conference, journalists from the Workshop are learning and refining new ways to augment our investigations with computer-assisted reporting. 

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.

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.