Biography

Since their first project in 1971, Barlett and Steele have specialized in systematically researching, analyzing and writing about the complex issues and institutions that profoundly affect American life. They have worked together as an investigative reporting team for more than 35 years, first at the Philadelphia Inquirer (1971-1997), then at Time Inc. (1997-2006), and now at Vanity Fair since 2006. Their work has earned them dozens of national awards. They are the only reporting team ever to have received two Pulitzer Prizes for newspaper reporting and two National Magazine Awards for magazine work.

The Washington Journalism Review has said of Barlett and Steele that “they are almost certainly the best team in the history of investigative reporting.” James H. Dygert, in his book, “The Investigative Journalist: Folk Heroes of a New Era,” described them as “perhaps the most systematic and thorough investigative reporting team in the United States.” And Steve Weinberg, in the book “Investigative Reporting,” wrote that “(Barlett and Steele) believe people really should be treated equally, that the playing field should be level, that government should not favor one group over another, that private-sector entities should be watched as closely as the public sector.”

Barlett and Steele also pioneered in the use of reporting methods now standard in the profession. In 1972, they used a computer to analyze more than 1,000 cases of violent crime in Philadelphia. “Crime and Injustice” was the largest computer-assisted project of its time and was widely replicated by other journalists for years afterward.

Donald L. Barlett

Donald L. BarlettBarlett was born in DuBois, Pennsylvania, on July 17, 1936, and he grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He attended Pennsylvania State University and served three years as a special agent with the United States Army Counter Intelligence Corps. Barlett began his journalism career in 1956 as a general assignment reporter at the Reading (Pennsylvania) Times, and later held a similar position at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. In 1965, he began working as a full-time investigative reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and subsequently moved to similar positions at the Chicago Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer before joining Time in 1997. In 2006, he became a contributing editor of Vanity Fair. Barlett is married and has a son and a stepson.

James B. Steele

James B. SteeleSteele was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on January 3, 1943, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. A graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, he began his journalism career at the Kansas City Times, where he covered labor, politics and urban affairs before moving to The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1970. After 27 years as an investigative reporter at The Inquirer, he joined Time in 1997. In 2006, he became a contributing editor of Vanity Fair. Steele is married and has a daughter.

“Don and Jim don't ignore rotten apples, but their passion is for writing about rotten barrels.”

— Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief of TIME Inc.

What others say about Barlett & Steele

“These guys are the gold standard.”
— Graydon Carter, Editor, Vanity Fair
“In a world of singles hitters, they often hit homers”
— James Warren, Chicago Tribune
“Perhaps the pre-eminent team of investigative journalists working today.”
Washington Monthly
“Two of the most talented investigative journalists in U.S. history.”
San Jose Mercury News
“The finest investigative reporters in America.”
— Molly Ivins

The Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University established the Barlett and Steele Awards in 2007 in recognition of their contribution to investigative reporting and to foster in-depth journalism by the media. Each year an independent jury reviews entries and awards three prizes: a gold medal and $5,000; a silver medal and $2,000; and a bronze medal and $1,000.

For more information:
http://www.businessjournalism.org/barlettsteeleawards/

National Awards

1972

  • George Polk Memorial Award for Metropolitan Reporting
  • Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for General Reporting

1973

  • Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Investigative Reporting

1974

  • American Bar Association Gavel Award
  • University of Missouri Business Journalism Award
  • Heywood Broun Award
  • George Polk Special Memorial Award
  • John Hancock Award for Excellence

1975

  • Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting
  • Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for Foreign Correspondence
  • Overseas Press Club of America Award for Best Daily Newspaper or Wire Service Interpretation of Foreign Affairs
  • John Hancock Award for Excellence
  • Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism

1976

  • University of Missouri Business Journalism Award

1981

  • University of Missouri Business Journalism Award
  • National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting

1983

  • University of Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism

1984

  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Award

1988

  • Associated Press Managing Editors Public Service Award
  • George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language (National Council of Teachers of English)
  • George Polk Award for Economics Reporting
  • Scripps Howard Foundation Roy W. Howard Award
  • Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award in Public Service
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Gold Medal
  • National Headliner Award Special Citation

1989

  • Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting
  • Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism
  • American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award

1991

  • George Polk Award for Economics Reporting
  • Heywood Broun Award
  • Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Investigative Reporting
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Gold Medal

1992

  • Freedoms Foundation Gold Medal
  • George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language (National Council of Teachers of English)
  • John S. Knight Gold Medal Award

1996

  • American Library Association Award "for ensuring the public's right to know."

1998

  • George Polk Award for National Reporting
  • James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism
  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Gold Medal
  • Sidney Hillman Foundation Award
  • John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Journalism
  • Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award in Magazine Journalism

1999

  • National Magazine Award for Public Interest
  • Harry Chapin Media Award
  • The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism (Harvard University)

2000

  • World Hunger Year Lifetime Achievement Award
  • George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting
  • Sigma Delta Chi Award for Magazine Investigative Reporting

2001

  • National Magazine Award for Public Interest

2004

  • Investigative Reporters and Editors Award

2011

  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

2012

  • Excellence in Journalism Award, Society of the Silurians.