Bill Dedman

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Bill Dedman (born 1960) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, an investigative reporter for Newsday, and co-author of the No. 1 bestselling biography of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.[1][2]

Often relying on public records as much as insider accounts, Dedman has reported and written influential investigative articles on racial discrimination by mortgage lenders,[3] racial profiling by police,[4] interrogation of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp,[5][6] and efforts to understand and prevent school shootings.[7] His work includes one of the early examinations, in 1990, of the cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church of allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest.[8][9][10]

In 1989, Dedman received the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for The Color of Money,[11] his series of articles in 1988 in Bill Kovach's The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on racial discrimination by banks and other mortgage lenders in middle-income black neighborhoods. In addition to raising awareness of redlining of minority areas, and leading Congress to expand disclosure of data allowing analysis of racial patterns in mortgage data, The Color of Money was an influential early example of computer-assisted reporting, data journalism, and data-driven journalism.

From 2006 to 2014, Dedman was an investigative reporter for NBC News and, formerly known as, uncovering stories including firefighter deaths from faulty equipment,[12] fraud in Pentagon efforts to identify war dead,[13] widespread failures to inspect highway bridges,[14][15] efforts by U.S. officials to hide the risk of earthquake damage to nuclear power plants,[16] hidden visitor logs at the Obama White House,[17] suppression of Hillary Rodham Clinton's college thesis at the request of the Clinton White House,[18][19] and journalists making campaign contributions.[20]

In September 2014, he joined Newsday, the daily newspaper on Long Island, N.Y., as a senior writer, reporting investigative stories in print, online, and on television for Newsday and its sister cable television channel, News 12 Long Island.[21]

Empty Mansions and Huguette Clark

While working for NBC News as an investigative reporter, Dedman uncovered the case of the reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark. He documented her life in a series of reports on and The Today Show in 2010-2012.[22] Dedman reported the Clark mystery first in an online slideshow, a series of 47 photos with 2,788 accompanying words in captions. The slideshow attracted more than 75 million page views, more than any story in the website's history.[23]

Dedman and Clark's cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr. (1936-2016), co-wrote the 2013 nonfiction book Empty Mansions about Clark and her father, the Gilded Age industrialist William A. Clark.[24][25]

Published September 10, 2013, by Ballantine Books, Empty Mansions debuted at No. 4 on The New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover nonfiction, and was the No. 1 bestselling nonfiction e-book in America.[26][27][28] Empty Mansions has been published in translation in China, Brazil, and Italy, and in English in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Commonwealth countries.[29]

Hollywood writer-director Ryan Murphy has optioned Empty Mansions for a feature film.[30]

Life and career

Bill Dedman
Born 1960 (1960)
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Alma mater
  • Journalist, author
Employer Newsday
Website Empty Mansions| Official Website

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dedman grew up in neighboring Red Bank, Tennessee. He started in journalism at age 16 as a copy boy at The Chattanooga Times.

He graduated from the Baylor School in Chattanooga. He attended Washington University in St. Louis, writing for the student newspaper Student Life and editing part-time for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but dropped out of college to work as the reporter at The Daily Star-Journal in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Dedman was a copy editor and reporter at newspapers in Chattanooga, then a reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. He was the first director of computer-assisted reporting for The Associated Press. He has covered news and sports part-time for The New York Times, including the home run record chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and 1999.[31]

He taught advanced reporting as an adjunct lecturer at Boston University, Northwestern University and the University of Maryland, and has taught seminars for many news organizations and associations.

Dedman's investigative reporting is analyzed at length in two books: Custodians of Conscience, which examines the techniques and moral implications of investigative reporting,[32] and the textbook The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Digital Age..[33]

In addition to serious investigative reporting, Dedman has done quirky stories, including his account in The Washington Post of discovering the 1989 DC Prostitute Expulsion, when police officers attempted to force sex workers to march down 14th Street, past the Washington Monument and across the 14th Street Bridge toward Virginia.[34]

Dedman has received the Investigative Reporters and Editors award, the Worth Bingham Prize for national investigative reporting, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize, awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for investigative reporting and creative use of online media, the Society of Professional Journalists national award for online investigative reporting, and others.


  1. ^ Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  2. ^ Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. 1998. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
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  18. ^ "Reading Hillary Rodham's Hidden Thesis: Clinton White House asked Wellesley to close off access". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  19. ^ "How the Clintons wrapped up Hillary's thesis: 'A stupid political decision,' says her former Wellesley pol-sci professor". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
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  21. ^ "Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bill Dedman to join Newsday — Empty Mansions, the No. 1 bestselling biography of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark and her family". 2014-09-16. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  22. ^ "Huguette Clark". NBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2015. 
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  24. ^ Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. New York City: Ballantine Books. 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
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  27. ^ Investigations (September 3, 2015). "Huguette Clark book coming from Random House". NBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune: Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell Jr.: 9780345534521: Books". Retrieved September 3, 2015. 
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  30. ^ Anita Busch. "Ryan Murphy Options Movie Rights To Bestseller 'Empty Mansions' - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved September 3, 2015. 
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External links

  • Website for Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.
  • Georgia Public Broadcasting radio interview with Dedman on the Pulitzer Prize, for Pulitzer centennial year, August 1, 2016.
  • profile of Dedman.
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart video of interview with Dedman on Empty Mansions, September 10, 2013.
  • Dedman speech to journalism school at Arizona State University, September 22, 2014.
  • Authorlink interview with Dedman on Empty Mansions, December 31, 2013.
  • Reuters interview with Dedman on Empty Mansions, September 12, 2013.
  • TV Santa Barbara video of interview with Dedman on Empty Mansions, January 4, 2014.


  • "The Color of Money: Home mortgage lending practices discriminate against blacks", Pulitzer Prize-winning series, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 1–5, 1988, and follow-up articles.
  • "Speed trap: Who gets a ticket, who gets a break?", series on racial profiling by police, The Boston Globe, 2003-2004.
  • "Years of defiance roots of Stallings's rebellion", first of a series with Laura Sessions Stepp, The Washington Post, April 29, 1990.
  • "Concerns about Stallings's lifestyle fueled conflict", second of a series, The Washington Post, April 30, 1990.
  • "Stallings builds a black church far from Rome", third of a series, The Washington Post, May 1, 1990.
  • "Pentagon unit held 'phony' ceremonies for MIAs, using planes that can't fly",, October 10, 2013.
  • "Reading Hillary Rodham's hidden thesis: Clinton White House asked Wellesley College to close off access",, March 2, 2007.
  • "How the Clintons wrapped up Hillary's thesis: 'A stupid political decision,' says her former Wellesley poli-sci professor",, March 2, 2007.
  • "Gitmo interrogations spark battle over tactics: The inside story of criminal investigators who tried to stop abuse",, first of a series, October 23, 2006.
  • "Can the '20th hijacker' of Sept. 11 stand trial?: Aggressive interrogations at Guantanamo may prevent his prosecution",, second of a series, October 24, 2006.
  • "U.S. nuclear agency hid concerns, hailed safety record as Fukushima melted",, March 10, 2014.
  • "What are the odds? U.S. nuke plants ranked by quake risk: So much for San Andreas: Reactors in East, Midwest, South have highest chance of damage",, March 16, 2011.
  • "Late inspections of bridges put travelers at risk: At least 17,000 spans didn't get a two-year checkup, finds",, first of a series, January 30, 2008. Full series
  • "Feds let states delay inspection of bad bridges: Loophole allows infrequent checkups for spans in poor condition",, second of a series, January 31, 2008. Full series
  • "Flaws found in firefighters' last line of defense: U.S. waited 5 years to heed expert's warning on 'man down' alarms",, first of a series, February 5, 2007. Full series
  • "CDC's fire investigation unit: the 'No Go Team': Agency that examines firefighter deaths typicalliy arrives 33 days later",, second of a series, February 6, 2007. Full series
  • "Deadly Delays: The decline of fire response", The Boston Globe, series, January 30–31, 2005.
  • "Deadly Lessons: School shooters tell why", series on Secret Service study of school shootings, Chicago Sun-Times, October 15–16, 2000.
  • "Journalists dole out cash to politicians (quietly): News organizations diverge on handling of political activism by staff",, June 21, 2007.
  • "Steakhouse knives pose security risk at JFK", News 12 Networks, television version, November 25, 2014.
  • "PA yanks knives from JFK eateries inside security checkpoint", Newsday, print version, November 25, 2014.
  • "Why taxpayers will bail out the rich when the next storm hits",, first of a series, February 18, 2014.
  • "The Clarks: an American story of wealth, scandal and mystery",, series beginning February 26, 2010.
  • "Fan snaring No. 62 faces big tax bite", The New York Times, September 7, 1998.
  • "Ticket Demand Is High, But Are New Fenway Seats Worth Risk?", The Boston Globe, April 11, 2003.
  • "March clears out prostitution zone; D.C. police criticized after ordering women to walk to Va. line", with Jeffrey Goldberg, The Washington Post, July 26, 1989.
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