As a reporter and editor at The New York Times, Walt Bogdanich won his third Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his reporting on toxic ingredients in medicine and other everyday products imported from China. Bogdanich has won top journalism prizes for both print and broadcast, including four prestigious George Polk awards. He teaches courses in investigative journalism as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Bogdanich graduates from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a bachelor’s degree in political science, followed a year later by a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University.
Bogdanich works for the Dayton Daily News before moving to the Cleveland Press.
With colleague Walter Johns Jr., Bogdanich wins his first George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting. Bogdanich leaves the Cleveland Press for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In a story written about Jackie Presser , Bogdanich reports that the Teamster boss took kickbacks and was an FBI informant. Pressured about the story, the following year the newspaper runs an apology and retraction saying there was no truth to the story. Eight years later, Presser biographer James Neff discovers in Presser’s FBI informant file evidence that Bogdanich’s story was, in fact, true.
Bogdanich lands an investigative reporting position with The Wall Street Journal.
Bogdanich investigates and writes a series of articles about inaccuracies in the medical laboratory industry. The series wins Bogdanich his first Pulitzer Prize in the category of Specialized Reporting in 1988.
Expanding on the medical topic, he writes “The Great White Lie.” The book probes deeper into faulty testing in medical labs and sharply criticizes the American medical system.
Bogdanich leaves The Wall Street Journal and takes a job at the ABC News television newsmagazine, “Day One.”
In a “Day One” segment, “Smoke Screen,” Bogdanich—working with correspondent John Martin and associate producer Keith Summa—details the tobacco companies’ manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes, exposing Philip Morris and prompting congressional hearings in which the chief executives of all of the major tobacco companies are asked, under oath, if their products were addictive and harmful. Meanwhile, because of the ABC story, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seriously considers banning cigarettes in their current form.
In retaliation, Philip Morris responds by suing ABC for $10 billion. The suit was filed in the city of its corporate headquarters, Richmond, Va. Eventually, ABC settles the “Day One” lawsuit, which includes an on-air apology and payment of $15 million for legal fees. Bogdanich and his ABC News colleagues are not consulted about or involved in the corporate settlement and refuse to sign the related court documents. Bogdanich, whose videotaped deposition had lasted 10 days, remains under a gag order. The network’s important legal motion to dismiss the case is filed by ABC’s lawyers under seal.
Bogdanich wins the George Polk Award for Network Television Reporting.
After the lawsuit with Philip Morris was over, Bogdanich wants to leave ABC on his own terms, despite entreaties by the president of ABC News, Roone Arledge, and others for him to stay. After teaming up with anchor Peter Jennings on an hour-long story on tobacco, Bogdanich resigns. Shortly thereafter he begins to work as a producer for Mike Wallace at the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” where he stays for more than four years.
Bogdanich becomes the investigations editor for the business and finance desk of The New York Times.
Working with colleagues Barry Meier and Mary Williams Walsh, Bogdanich writes the series “Medicine’s Middlemen” 16 and wins the 2002 George Polk Award for Health Care.
Bogdanich is named an assistant editor for the newly expanded investigative desk at the Times.
Bogdanich writes a series entitled “Death on the Tracks” on the corporate cover-up of fatal railway accidents. The series reveals that despite hundreds of fatalities caused by railroad accidents, politically connected railroad companies evade costs and regulations by manipulating evidence, government officials and public opinion. For the series, Bogdanich wins the 2004 George Polk Award for National Reporting and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.
Writing an extensive series based on reporting on four continents, Bogdanich and Jake Hooker expose how dangerous, illicit ingredients from China get into the global market at a devastating human cost. With the series, “A Toxic Pipeline,” Bogdanich wins the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
In the series “Radiation Boom” for The New York Times, Bogdanich and Kristina Rebelo examine the increased use of radiation, new radiation technology and inadequate training of health care workers on how to operate it. Bogdanich covers this issue for almost two years.
While remaining on The New York Times staff, Bogdanich teaches investigative journalism as an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Bogdanich directs student research regarding the horse racing industry. Based on their findings, he writes the article “Death and Disarray at America’s Racetracks.”
Additional Information and References
- 1979 George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting.
- 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Reporting
- 1994 George Polk Award for Network Television
- 2002 George Polk Award for Health Care Reporting
- 2004 George Polk Award for National Reporting
- 2005 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting
- 2007 Overseas Press Club Award
- 2007 IRE Medal
- 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting
- 2010 Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award
- “The Great White Lie.” New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
- Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
- Interview with Charles Lewis at The New York Times on May 31, 2007.
- Maier, Thomas. “Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power & Glory of America's Richest Media
- Empire & the Secretive Man Behind It.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
- The New York Times
- Weinberg, Steve. “Smoking Guns: ABC, Philip Morris and the Infamous Apology.” Columbia Journalism Review. November/December 1995.
- Wisconsin Alumni Association