Leonard Downie, Jr.

NPF Award Winner: Leonard Downie, Jr. - Leonard Downie, Jr.

Leonard Downie, Jr. 2008

The Washington Post

Leonard Downie, Jr. served as Executive Editor of The Washington Post for 17 years, from September 1, 1991, until September 8, 2008. He is now a Vice President At Large at The Washington Post Co.

Downie joined The Post as a summer intern in 1964. He soon became a well-known local investigative reporter in Washington, specializing in crime, courts, housing and urban affairs. This reporting won him two Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Front Page awards, The American Bar Association Gavel Award for legal reporting, and the John Hancock Award for excellent business and financial writing.

He worked on the Metropolitan staff as a reporter and editor for 15 years, and ran the staff as Assistant Managing Editor for Metropolitan news from 1974 until 1979. As Deputy Metropolitan Editor, Downie helped supervise The Post’s Watergate coverage. He was named London correspondent in 1979 and returned to Washington in 1982 as National Editor. In 1984, he became Managing Editor under Executive Editor Ben Bradlee. During Downie’s 17 years as executive editor, The Post News staff won 25 Pulitzer Prizes, including three Pulitzer Gold Medals for Public Service.

Born May 1, 1942, Downie grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and received his BA and MA degrees in journalism and political science from Ohio State University. He received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Ohio State in June 1993.

In 1971-72 he spent a year on leave from The Post on an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, studying urban problems in the United States and Europe.

Downie is the author of five books: Justice Denied (1971), Mortgage on America (1974), The New Muckrakers (1976), a study of investigative reporting; (with Robert G. Kaiser) The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril (2002); and a novel, The Rules of the Game (2009). He was also a major contributor to Ten Blocks from the White House: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968, a Washington Post book. In 2003, The News About the News won the Goldsmith Award from the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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