About IRW

The Investigative Reporting Workshop publishes in-depth stories about government and corporate accountability, ranging widely from the environment and health to national security and the economy.

Overview

The Investigative Reporting Workshop, based at the School of Communication at American University, was founded in 2008 by longtime investigative journalist Chuck Lewis, who continues to report and write for the site and national publications.

Our own staff and freelancers contribute to our site. In addition, IRW pairs graduate students as researchers and reporters with professional staff at The Washington Post and PBS FRONTLINE.

Other media outlets have co-reported and co-published Workshop stories, including inewsource and KPBS in San Diego, WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C.; Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting,The New Yorker and the Columbia Journalism Review. Two of our most recent 2020 projects, investigations into water quality — and racial, economic and political factors contributing to lack of clean water — have been co-reported by The Weather Channel and co-published by The Fresno Bee and the Tampa Bay Times.

IRW has published hundreds of stories, won a dozen national awards and trained more than 180 students.

The work focuses on government and corporate accountability, with topics ranging widely from the environment and health to national security and the economy. IRW also has reported numerous stories on immigration, police shootings and sexual assault.

Our statement on ethics and transparency is here.

Our statement on diversity and inclusion is here.

You’ll find more on our educational and professional outreach here.

You can read more about us and the history of muckraking in this story in  American magazine in July 2019.

Who we are

Charles Lewis is a former producer for CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” and ABC News. He founded the Center for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as well as several other nonprofit news groups before forming IRW, where he is executive editor. In 2018, Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation awarded him the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. He is the author or co-author of six books. Lewis teaches investigative journalism.

Wendell Cochran, a former journalism division director in the School of Communication and a longtime business reporter, co-founded IRW with Lewis. Cochran recently retired, although he continued to work on BankTracker, a project IRW launched in early 2009 to track the financial health of banks and credit unions.

Lynne Perri is IRW’s managing editor and a journalist-in-residence in the School of Communication, where she teaches reporting, journalism ethics, and visual journalism. She is a former deputy managing editor for graphics and photography at USA TODAY.

The Post partnership is under the guidance of IRW Senior Editor John Sullivan, who is also on the Washington Post’s investigative staff. Sullivan teaches a graduate practicum inside the Post.

The PBS FRONTLINE partnership is led by longtime PBS writer-producer Rick Young, also based at IRW with his team, including co-producers Emma Schwartz and Fritz Kramer.

Jennifer LaFleur is an internationally recognized data-journalism expert and trainer, formerly of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica. She also is on the board of Investigative Reporters and Editors. She teaches data journalism at SOC and is IRW’s data editor.

Detailed staff biographies can be found on the Our Staff page.

And learn more about our publishing partners here.

Advisory Board 2020

The Investigative Reporting Workshop has an Advisory Board that offers programmatic support and guidance to the Workshop but does not serve as a formal governing body because of the Workshop’s status as a special project of American University. This Advisory Board represents investigative journalism around the globe and includes:

  • Yevgenia Albats, chief editor, The New Times, Moscow
  • Rosental Calmon Alves, founding director, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Knight Chair in International Journalism, the University of Texas at Austin
  • Walt Bogdanich, investigative reporter, The New York Times
  • Yuen-Ying Chan, media consultant and educator; founding director, Journalism and Media Studies Centre at The University of Hong Kong
  • Sunday Dare, publisher, News Digest Magazine; editor-in-chief, Newsbreaksnow
  • Leonard Downie Jr., Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; former Washington Post executive editor
  • Anne Garrels, broadcast journalist and author; longtime NPR correspondent
  • Gwen Lister, chair, Namibia Media Trust, and founder, The Namibian
  • Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism, University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
  • Leonarda Reyes, founder and director, Center for Journalism and Public Ethics in Mexico
  • James Risser, retired reporter, Des Moines Register; former director, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program and an emeritus professor at Stanford University
  • Mark J. Rochester, senior news director/investigations, The Detroit Free Press
  • James B. Steele, investigative reporter, formerly of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Time and Vanity Fair

History

The Workshop began publishing in the spring of 2009. It is modeled on the Children’s Television Workshop, which originally was created to produce “Sesame Street,” but became an incubator and innovator for much of educational television — as IRW has helped to incubate and encourage the growth of other news nonprofits.

Chuck Lewis, who founded the Center for Public Integrity, also helped to create several news nonprofits since founding IRW, which has hosted journalists-in-residents from other countries who have gone on to form nonprofit news organizations in Japan and Australia.

IRW operates under the 501(c)(3) designation of American University. The dean of the AU School of Communication is Dr. Laura DeNardis.

Former dean Larry Kirkman also worked as a senior producer at IRW and most recently created an interactive to showcase several productions on antibiotic resistance made in collaboration with FRONTLINE.

More information on our funding is here.  And to support our efforts, you can click on the donate button or read more here.

Illustration by Sam Ward for IRW