Cheryl W. Thompson Cheryl W. Thompson is an investigative correspondent for NPR.
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Cheryl W. Thompson

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Cheryl
Wanyu Zhang/NPR

Cheryl W. Thompson

Senior Editor, Member Station Investigations

Cheryl W. Thompson is an investigative correspondent for NPR and senior editor overseeing Member station investigations.

Since becoming the inaugural editor of the stations investigations team in 2021, where she is a player/coach, she has collaborated with Member stations in Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Oregon and Washington, and with Columbia University and several nonprofits, to do award-winning work, including "Hot Days: Heat's Mounting Death Toll on Workers in the U.S.," an investigation into how Black and brown workers in the U.S. were dying on the job for lack of water and shade breaks. That series won several awards in 2022, including an IRE and National Headliner. An examination of racial covenants still on the books throughout the U.S. won a National Headliner award and an award from the National Association of Black Journalists. An investigation into deaths at tribal jails won awards from PMJA and the Native American Journalists Association. And an investigation into ballot drop boxes in Georgia after the 2020 presidential election won a 2023 NABJ award.

She also served as the investigative reporting coach on the 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. She served as a Pulitzer juror for investigative reporting in 2022 and chaired the jury in 2023.

Prior to joining NPR in January 2019, Thompson spent 22 years at The Washington Post, where she wrote extensively about law enforcement, political corruption and guns, and was a White House correspondent during Barack Obama's first term. Her investigative series that traced the guns used to kill more than 500 police officers in the U.S. earned her an Emmy, a National Headliner, an IRE, a White House News Photographers Association and other awards. In 2015, her reporting found that nearly one person a week died in the U.S. after being Tasered by police. The story was part of a yearlong series on police shootings in the U.S. that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

In 2017, her examination of Howard University Hospital revealed myriad problems with the storied facility, including that it had a higher rate of death lawsuits per bed than the five other D.C. hospitals. Her project published in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine in May 2018 investigated the unsolved serial murders of six Black girls in the nation's capital nearly 50 years ago; it later won an SPJ DC award for magazine feature writing and an NABJ award for investigative reporting. She has won numerous other national awards, and was named NABJ's Educator of the Year in 2017 for her teaching and mentoring at George Washington University. She was part of the Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2002 for coverage of Sept. 11.

Thompson is the past president 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 also teaches investigative reporting as an associate professor at GWU, where she founded a student NABJ chapter in 2014, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Story Archive

Thursday

Ernie Haynes stands next to a memorial for his daughter, Jennifer, at his home in Risingsun, Ohio. Following her drug overdose death in 2017, he was charged with abduction after trying to gain custody of his grandchildren. The action sparked a five-year legal battle to clear his name. Dustin Franz for NPR hide caption

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Dustin Franz for NPR

Ohio prosecutors broke rules to win convictions and got away with it

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Friday

Chicago police officers arrive at the scene of a May 19 mass shooting outside a McDonald's restaurant. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times hide caption

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Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In Chicago, handguns turned into high-capacity machine guns fuel deadly violence

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Sunday

Jeremiah Zagar speaks onstage during Netflix's Hustle Philadelphia special screening on June 7 in Philadelphia. Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Netflix hide caption

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Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Netflix

'Hustle' is Jeremiah Zagar's love letter to basketball fans in Philadelphia

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Thursday

Federal lawmakers are pushing for a "do-over" of a contract, awarded by the Interior Department, to a former administrator to review deaths at tribal jails. Nearly half of those deaths happened on his watch. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Wednesday

Shemia Reese holds the racial covenant that was in place for her home in St. Louis, Mo. Michael B. Thomas for NPR hide caption

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Michael B. Thomas for NPR

Racial covenants, a relic of the past, are still on the books across the country

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Tuesday

Cruz Urias Beltran collapsed because of heat-related illness while working in a cornfield near Grand Island, Neb., in 2018. He is one of at least 384 workers who died from environmental heat exposure in the U.S. in the last decade, according to an investigation by Columbia Journalism Investigations and NPR. Walker Pickering for NPR hide caption

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Walker Pickering for NPR

Heat is killing workers in the U.S. — and there are no federal rules to protect them

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Monday

Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns

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Demonstrators raise their arms and chant, "Hands up, don't shoot," in August 2014 as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns

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Tuesday

NPR Probe: Even Before Pandemic, Authorities Lost Track Of Sex Offenders

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Tuesday

Kristen Trogler was unable to find on a sex offender registry the man who sexually abused her when she was 5 years old. Ben de la Cruz/NPR hide caption

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Ben de la Cruz/NPR

Sex Offender Registries Often Fail Those They Are Designed To Protect

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Tuesday

NPR reviewed a database of thousands of contracting actions connected to the COVID-19 public health crisis and identified more than 250 companies that got federal contracts worth more than $1 million without going through a fully competitive bidding process. diane555/Getty Images hide caption

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Feds Spend Billions On COVID-19 Contracts, Often Without Fully Competitive Bidding

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Monday

Signs are displayed in the window of a store in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. The Paycheck Protection Program, aimed at helping small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis, has been beset by problems. Paul Sancya/AP hide caption

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Paul Sancya/AP

Wednesday

President Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act last week. The law added billions for loans for small businesses through the PPP. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption

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Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Loopholes In Small Business Relief Program Allow Thriving Companies To Cash In

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Wednesday

A Bank of America sign is displayed at a branch in New York on April 10, 2020. Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Small Business Rescue Earned Banks $10 Billion In Fees

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Monday

The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Been Accompanied By A Surge In Consumer Fraud

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Friday