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

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

Islamophobia in focus: Panel confronts American media bias against Islam

Journalists and scholars of Islam explored the bias Muslims face and how the media influences both public opinion and global politics. 


New Trump biography reveals a complex picture

Washington Post staffers talk about "Trump Revealed," the new book by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher that draws on a team of reporters and fact-checkers who looked into the presidential candidate's life and his worldwide travels, his hotel-rebuilding successes and his investment failures in Atlantic City casinos. The Post also makes hundreds of documents available for readers to see for themselves how they reported the story.

What we're reading: In-depth stories covering a wide range of topics

In this investigation the Food & Environment Reporting Network looks into how oil palm plantations have not only threatened rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia but also opened doors to poachers. The story is one of several a young reporter has been following in his immersive year into investigative reporting.

Charge of assaulting an officer narrows in DC

Last fall, formal legislation was introduced by the D.C. Council to narrow the definition of what constituted an assault on a police officer. The council committee that crafted the language in the bill cited "Assault on Justice," an investigation by WAMU-FM, the Investigative Reporting Workshop and Reveal of the Center for Investigative Reporting, for prompting the reform.

In March 2016, the bill finally became law. A look at how the change unfolded.

CIA whistleblower files health complaint in prison

The biggest surprise of the Barack Obama presidency to me and to many others has been what I have called “the unexpected national security obsessiveness” of his administration. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice has repeatedly used the draconian 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute journalists’ sources, effectively criminalizing investigative journalism. Or as James Goodale, The New York Times’ lead lawyer during the seminal Pentagon Papers case put it in his recent memoir, “Obama has used the Espionage Act to indict more leakers than any president in the history of this country.” No president’s administration in the past century — indeed, all of them combined — has prosecuted more whistleblowing sources using the Espionage Act than the Obama 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.