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

Recent News

What happens when a driver kills someone while fiddling with a cellphone? Often, not much

Although there are no national statistics on the results of prosecutions brought against distracted drivers who kill or severely injure someone, light punishment appears to be the norm. An informal review by FairWarning of prosecutions of distracted drivers — cases gleaned from news reports over the last five years that involved more than 100 deaths overall — found that few were sentenced to serve for more than a month or two, or given fines of more than $1,000.

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

Future of DC transparency

The future of transparency in D.C. government is murky, open records advocates say.

Since its creation in 2011, the Office of Open Government has been tasked with keeping more than 90 District agencies in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. But the board that oversees the office will not reappoint its inaugural director, Traci L. Hughes, making transparency advocates worried about the office’s future.  

The power of reporters, working together

Workshop Executive Editor Charles Lewis writes about global teamwork in investigative reporting in his chapter for a new book published by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford. 

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

Apprehensions at U.S.-Mexico border down from 2017

The number of people apprehended or denied entry into the U.S. dropped from 2017.

Donations to nonprofit newsrooms continue to grow after 'Trump bump'

Despite his persistent claims of fake news and shoddy reporting, President Donald Trump’s contentious relationship with the media has actually provided a much-needed financial boost for many nonprofit,  investigative journalism organizations across the country.

Asbestos, highway safety and child strangulation prevention

Check out our three reprints from FairWarning.

Stories include preventions in child strangulation, Johnson & Johnsons carcinogen worries and highway safety.

 

How Trump is shaping immigration policy

“It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century," said President Donald Trump at his first State of the Union. 

What Trump didn’t talk about were the ups and downs of immigration under his administration. The Investigative Reporting Workshop built a timeline of immigration during Trump’s first year, and we’ll continue to update it.

American trust in the media is low, but majority believes it is necessary

More than 80 percent of U.S. adults believe the news media are critical or very important to our democracy, according to a recent survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation.

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.