Leonard Downie Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School, is vice president at large of The Washington Post, where he was executive editor from 1991 to 2008. During his 44 years in the Post newsroom, he was also an investigative reporter, editor on the local and national news staffs, London correspondent, and, from 1984 to 1991, managing editor under then-executive editor Ben Bradlee. As deputy metro editor from 1972 to 1974, Downie helped supervise the Post’s Watergate coverage. He also oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of every national election from 1984 through 2008. During his 17 years as executive editor, The Washington Post won 25 Pulitzer prizes.
Downie received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, from The Ohio State University. He is the author of five books, including “The New Muckrakers,” about investigative reporting; “The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril” (with Robert G. Kaiser); and “The Rules of the Game,” a novel about journalism and politics in Washington. He is co-author, with Columbia University Professor Michael Schudson, of a major report on the state of the news media, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2009.
Downie is a founder and board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., an advisory board member of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism and chairman of the board of advisers of Kaiser Health News. He is also a member of the Aspen Institute’s Commission to Reform the Federal Appointments Process.