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

How to cover hate

Even as hate crimes occur with more frequency, newsrooms for the most part tend to treat them as individual problems, not as systemic problems that require better follow-through and focus. 

Truth and lies in the Trump era

Trump’s presidency, and the way it is being reported in the media and perceived by the public, has led me to ask some basic questions — about my profession of journalism; the relative power of truth and lies; and the future of democratic self-government in these United States. Does truth even matter in covering this president? Are he and his proclivity for telling falsehoods the problem, or is he a symptom of a deeper affliction in our political-economic system?

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

Editors: 'We are not at war with Trump'

Top editors of two of the country’s leading news organizations said that their reporters were at the forefront of covering the Trump administration, but they were not competing with each other to topple the presidency.

Dean Baquet and Marty Baron, executive editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post, respectively, said that a journalist’s mission of pursuing truth and fairness hasn’t changed in the Trump era.

Behind the Post's opioids investigation

Graduate student and Workshop intern Reis Thebault was a contributing reporter to a recent Washington Post investigation into congressional action that many in the Drug Enforcement Agency saw as hampering their efforts to stem the opioid crisis.

King hoped to enlighten Kennedy on civil rights

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to influence John F. Kennedy in his run for president because he saw Kennedy as far removed from the realities of blacks in America, according to a new book on the relationship between the two powerful men. 

Reporters shown new frontier at ONA

The reporting tools of the future were on display at the “When Investigative Gets Immersive: Exploring Scientific Storytelling with Journalism 360” session of the 2017 Online News Association conference.

Right-leaning news outlets less critical of Trump, study shows

The Pew Research Center analyzed 3,000 news stories and found that news outlets with politically right-leaning audiences produce more positive evaluations of the Trump administration but cite fewer sources and are less critical of the current administration.  

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.