The past two quarter century, through his work as the founder and first executive director of the award-winning Center for Public Integrity and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and since then, Lewis has been systematically investigating the origins and abuses of power in relation to the public policy decision-making processes in the United States and around the world. For example, in 1996, 2000 and 2004, he and his colleagues at the Center authored the popular and unprecedented The Buying of the President books, identifying the financial interests and unadvertised past behind the glossy candidate careers - always released for citizens before any votes were cast. He also initiated and oversaw The Koch Club project at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, which involved more than 20 students over more than two years.
From 1999 through 2004, Lewis and his colleagues created a new way of monitoring and reporting on corruption, government accountability and openness around the world, culminating in a 750,000-word report prepared by 200 social scientists and journalists in 25 countries on six continents. This project spawned a new, nonprofit organization, Global Integrity, which Lewis co-founded.
From 2005 to 2014, he researched the relationship between truth, political and corporate power and the national news media; the origins and trajectory of public relations and propaganda, deception by government and companies, and the truth-telling capacity of journalists and their news organizations. 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity was published in June 2014. As part of this work, since 2007, he has conducted audio and video recorded interviews with some of the most respected U.S. reporters and editors whose independent reporting has had a significant impact on our nation's history since 1950. Investigating Power was released at the National Press Club in 2012 and is an ongoing work-in-progress, accessible at www.investigatingpower.org.
Lewis also has been exploring new economic models to create and deliver investigative journalism. His research evolves around this central question: how to expand the public reach and impact of investigative research and reporting in and outside the United States, one of the two core missions of Investigative Reporting Workshop, which he conceived and leads. He has a longstanding interest in the subject: for example, in 1997, Lewis began the Center's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the first network of the world's premier investigative reporters (now 190 journalists in roughly 70 countries across six continents), collaborating to produce cross-border, award-winning, public service journalism. He is currently conducting research about the future and potential of such investigative collaboration, within and beyond journalism.
Fellow, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University