Lowell Bergman (born July 24, 1945) is the Emeritus Reva and David Logan Distinguished Chair in Investigative Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and founder of the Investigative Reporting Program, where he taught lecture classes and then seminars dedicated to investigative reporting for 28 years. He was also a producer/correspondent for the PBS documentary series Frontline. Bergman’s career spans nearly five decades, most notably as a producer, a reporter and then the director of investigative reporting at ABC News and as a producer for CBS’s 60 Minutes leaving in 1998 as the senior producer of investigations for CBS News. In 2019, Bergman retired after a 50-year career in journalism.
The story of his investigation into the tobacco industry was chronicled in Michael Mann’s The Insider, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Bergman was portrayed by Al Pacino. From 1999 to 2008, Bergman was an investigative correspondent for The New York Times. He forged a partnership between The Times and PBS Frontline in 1999 creating collaborative investigative projects using broadcast, print and the Web. Bergman has received honors for both print and broadcasting, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded to The New York Times in 2004 for “A Dangerous Business” which detailed a record of worker safety violations coupled with the systematic violation of environmental laws in the cast-iron sewer and water pipe industry. That story is the only winner of the Pulitzer Prize to also be acknowledged with every major award in broadcasting. The recipient of numerous Emmys, Bergman has also been honored with six Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver and Golden Baton awards, three Peabodys, two Harvard Goldsmith Awards for Investigative Reporting, a Polk Award, the RFK Grand Prize, a Sidney Hillman Award for Labor Reporting, a Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism, a Mirror Award from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and the James Madison Freedom of Information Award for Career Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Bergman was named one of the 30 most notable investigative reporters in the United States, according to Christopher H. Sterling’s six-volume Encyclopedia of Journalism.
Through the non-profit production company, Investigative Studios, he has continued to work on documentaries and documentary series serving as Co-Executive Producer with Brian Knappenberger on Netflix’s The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez and as Executive Producer and reporter on Agents of Chaos, a co-production with Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions, and is currently at work on a number of documentary series and a book.
Bergman’s grandmother was the first secretary-treasurer of a ILGWU local in New York; his grandfather was also a founder. His father, Alex Bergman, emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary via Cuba in 1938. His mother was born in the United States and had a career in the fashion industry, taught gourmet cooking and then managed 48 apartment units in Mt. Vernon, NY until she passed away at 101 in 2019.
Bergman graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with Honors, in Sociology and History, and was a graduate fellow in philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, where he studied under Herbert Marcuse. In 1969, he co-founded San Diego Free Press (later San Diego Street Journal), an alternative newspaper, with several fellow students. Bergman and others including a former UCSD undergraduate student Richard “Black Dick” Blackburn instigated the probe which later toppled the San Diego financial empire of C. Arnholt Smith, President and CEO of U.S. National Bank in San Diego. Bergman went on to contribute to Ramparts and The San Francisco Examiner. He later worked as an associate editor at Rolling Stoneand as a correspondent for The New York times from 1999 to 2008. His work for The New York Times included guiding its first documentary partnerships with PBS’ Frontline, covering the energy crisis in California in print and film along with coverage of Al Qaeda both before and after 9/11. Those films and print coverage garnered numerous awards.
In 1977, Bergman helped found the Center for Investigative Reporting. He was part of the reporting team that continued the work of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, who was assassinated in 1976 while investigating land fraud committed by organized crime.