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.
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 at the Center for Investigative Reporting; The New Yorker; The New York Times; and the Columbia Journalism Review.
The Workshop has published more than 200 stories, won a dozen national awards and trained more than 140 students.
The Workshop focuses on government and corporate accountability, with topics ranging widely from the environment and health to national security and the economy. The Workshop also has reported numerous stories on immigration, police shootings and sexual assault.
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 associate producers Emma Schwartz and Fritz Kramer.
Jennifer LaFleur is an internationally recognized data-journalism expert and trainer, formerly of Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting and Pro Publica. 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.
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. Chuck Lewis has helped to create several news nonprofits domestically since founding IRW, and the Workshop has hosted journalists-in-residents from other countries who have gone on to form nonprofit news organizations in Japan and Australia.
The Workshop operates under the 501(c)(3) designation of American University. The dean of the AU School of Communication is Dr. Jeffrey Rutenbeck.
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.
Illustration by Sam Ward for IRW.