Merrill College Associate Professor Deborah Nelson.

Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism

College/University: B.S. Northern Illinois University; J.D. Depaul University College of Law

301-405-2888 2100E Knight Hall

Deborah Nelson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Fulbright specialist in investigative reporting. She joined the Merrill faculty in 2006 after five years as the Washington investigations editor for The Los Angeles Times. She also reported for the Washington Post, Seattle Times and Chicago Sun-Times. She currently is a freelance reporter for Reuters.

Nelson shared in the Pulitzer for a Seattle Times series that exposed widespread problems in the federal government’s Indian Housing Program. She co-edited Pulitzer Prize-winning series at The Washington Post on the deaths of 229 children in the District of Columbia’s care, and at The Los Angeles Times on the deadly accident record of the Marines Harrier jump jet. Her science and environmental reporting also has received national honors. She wrote a critically acclaimed book, The War Behind Me (Basic Books 2008), on the soldiers who spoke out about U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. She co-authored “The Unequal State of America,” a Reuters series on income inequality. Most recently, she co-authored “Water’s Edge,” a 2014 Reuters series on the present-day consequences of climate change.

She teaches courses on investigative reporting and media law. She has lectured on investigative reporting in Latvia as a Fulbright specialist and in China as a professional-in-residence for the U.S.-China Education Trust. She led an initiative for the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda and the Salzburg Global Seminar to develop a global curriculum on international criminal law and justice for journalism schools in conflict and post-conflict areas. She is on the advisory boards of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Investigative Reporting Workshop. She is an active member and past president of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Nelson earned a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law and a B.S. in Journalism from Northern Illinois University.

Photo credit: Scott Jacobson

Curriculum Vitae




JOUR400 MEDIA LAW (Fall 2014)

Recent Publications

Water’s Edge,” Reuters, September 2014.

The Unequal State of America,” Reuters, December 2012

The Cruelest Show on Earth,” Mother Jones magazine, November/December 2011

The War Behind Me (Basic Books 2008)

Investigative journalism
News reporting, writing and editing
Media and the law: Freedom of information, First Amendment

Pulitzer Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Overseas Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi, Scripps Howard Foundation, John B. Oakes, Women in Communication, National Housing, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Suburban Newspapers of America and more than two dozen local and regional awards.

Fund for Investigative Journalism, Investigative Reporting Workshop, Investigative Reporters and Editors

Courses Taught
Investigative Reporting  JOUR698i/328i
Media Law and Ethics in the Digital Age” JOUR289E
Investigative Journalism in Post-Soviet Europe JOUR698R/479R
Media Law JOUR400
Probing War: Investigative Narratives and American Conflicts (I-Series Course) JOUR289J
Carnegie Seminar JOUR698N/479N