Charles Lewis

Inside Public Integrity

Published — October 13, 2021

Public Integrity founder Charles Lewis wins lifetime achievement award

Charles Lewis (Kris Higgins, Investigative Reporting Workshop)


Center for Public Integrity founder Charles Lewis won a lifetime achievement award from the Institute for Nonprofit News Wednesday for what the organization described as his significant, innovative and lasting contributions to the field of independent, nonprofit news.

Lewis, 67, is now a professor of journalism at American University School of Communication, where he was the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop

Lewis said he was “almost speechless” at the honor. “It’s not something I encounter every day, let’s put it that way,” he said, with a chuckle.

“The entire team at The Center for Public Integrity praises INN for recognizing our founder, Chuck Lewis, with the lifetime achievement award,” said Public Integrity CEO Paul Cheung. “Chuck is one of the founding fathers of non-profit journalism as he was among a handful of pioneers who envisioned journalism differently. From the business model to distribution to the reporting, Chuck was an innovative leader ahead of his time.”

A former news producer for “60 Minutes,” Lewis founded Public Integrity in 1989 with a budget so tight, its first office was in his then-home in Reston, Virginia. It is now one of the oldest nonprofit news organizations in the country. He also founded the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Both organizations have won Pulitzer Prizes, the highest award in journalism. 

He is an author, and co-authored five books for Public Integrity. He is also the recipient of many journalism awards celebrating his accomplishments, including the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence in 2018. 

Lewis was nominated for the INN award via a collaborative effort, said Lynne Perri, the managing editor of IRW and journalist-in-residence and senior professorial lecturer at the American University School of Communication.

Lewis has “inspired and taught dozens of young journalists” since joining American University in the fall of 2006, she said in an email, and has been “proud to be a mentor.” 

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