Cheryl W. Thompson

Cheryl Thompson

Cheryl W. Thompson

Associate Professor of Journalism


Office Phone: (202) 994-7552
Media and Public Affairs Building 805 21st Street, NW, MPA 409 Washington DC 20052

Cheryl W. Thompson joined the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in 2013 from The Washington Post, where she distinguished herself as an award-winning investigative journalist covering politics, crime and corruption. She joined NPR as an investigative correspondent in January 2019 after 22 years at The Washington Post.

At the Post, her fearless reporting led to the prosecution and imprisonment of former Prince George's County (MD) executive Jack Johnson. Professor Thompson has more than 25 years of newspaper reporting experience, including the Los Angeles Daily News, the Chicago Tribune and The Kansas City Star. She arrived at The Washington Post in 1997, where she was a Metro Reporter and National Reporter before moving to the Investigative Unit. She also served as a White House Correspondent during part of President Obama’s first term.

Professor Thompson did undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and also has a certificate in Investigative Reporting from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown and Howard universities, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Thompson has won more than 40 awards, including four Salute to Excellence awards from the National Association of Black Journalists for an examination of homicides in the nation’s capital; the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy by a D.C. police officer over a stolen minibike; the unsolved killings of six Black girls in the early 1970s; and racial covenants that remain on deeds in every state nearly 75 years after they were outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

She was selected in 2022 to serve as a Pulitzer juror for investigative reporting, and was the investigative reporting coach on NPR’s “No Compromise” podcast that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Audio Reporting. That same year, NPR honored her with the Public Service Journalism award given annually to one journalist.

Professor Thompson also was part of the Washington Post team that reported on a year-long series on police-involved shootings that won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. In 2002, she  shared the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. She also is a 2011 recipient of an Emmy Award from the National Capital Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and three awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Professor Thompson is the immediate past president and chairman of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 6,000-member organization whose mission is to improve the quality of investigative journalism. In 2018, she became the first Black elected president in its 43-year history and served for three terms before being elected board chairman in 2021. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists—and founded a student chapter at GW in 2014—and was named the 2017 NABJ Educator of the Year. Professor Thompson also won the 2018 Robert and Christine Staub Faculty Excellence Award and the 2014 GW Honey Nashman Spark a Life Award for Faculty Member of the Year. She is co-author of two Washington Post E-Books.

She is a founding and current board member of the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism, which focuses on cross-border investigations, serves on the board of Spotlight DC and is an advisory board member of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, two nonprofits dedicated to investigative journalism.


Investigative and accountability journalism, interviewing, criminal justice and political corruption reporting

SMPA 3242 – Investigative Journalism
SMPA 2111 – Advanced News Reporting and Writing

Poynter News University, "Using Data to Cover Police"


Co-author of an E-Book, Lethal Force: The True Toll of Police Shootings in America. (2016). The Washington Post

Co-author of an E-Book, Guns in America. (2013). The Washington Post.


"Racial covenants, a relic of the past, are still on the books across the country."(2021). NPR.

"Heat is killing workers in the U.S. — and there are no federal rules to protect them." (2021). NPR

"Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns." (2021). NPR.

"Sex Offender Registries Often Fail Those They Are Designed To Protect."(2020). NPR.

"NPR Probe: Even Before Pandemic, Authorities Lost Track Of Sex Offenders." (2020). NPR.

Six black girls were brutally murdered in the early ’70s. Why was this case never solved?” (2018). The Washington Post.

Jack B. Johnson being released after five years in prison.” (2017). The Washington Post.

Howard University Hospital shows symptoms of a severe crisis.” (2017). The Washington Post.

Former Pr. George’s executive asks for corruption conviction to be set aside.” (2016). The Washington Post.

Family asks for federal review of son's death after Tasering." (2015). The Washington Post.

Improper techniques, increased risks." (2015). The Washington Post.

Fixing Baltimoreans’ relationship with police next challenge for mayor." (2015). The Washington Post.

Billy Martin: Washington's go-to lawyer when you're in trouble. Real trouble." (2015). The Washington Post Magazine.

Dozens in D.C., Maryland paid the ultimate price for cooperating with police." (2015). The Washington Post.

A decade later, prosecutor Luna's death still a mystery." (2013). The Washington Post Magazine.

Old friends were at center of a network of public contracts." (2013). The Washington Post.

Relatives of ex-MWAA official were paid $175,000-plus in no-bid contract." (2013). The Washington Post.

"D.C. airport authority employment is frequently a family affair." (2012). The Washington Post.

"Airports authority repeatedly warned over contract deficiencies." (2012). The Washington Post.

"D.C. homicides: In 15 percent of closed cases, no charges and no arrests." (2012). The Washington Post.

"As D.C. homicides decline, murder still a stubborn crime to solve and prosecute." (2012). The Washington Post.

"The story of two guns that killed police officers." (2010). The Washington Post.

"How cop killers got their guns." (2010). The Washington Post.

"Review of DeOnté Rawlings Case Paints an Ambiguous Picture."(2009). The Washington Post.


Additional Publications

"A cop killer's remorse." (2010). The Washington Post.

"The Problem with Witness Protection." (2015). Investigative Reporters and Editors Radio Podcast.


M.S., Journalism, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
B.A., Speech Communication, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign