KEITH EPSTEIN is an award-winning investigative editor and writer and strategic and business intelligence advisor with knowledge and networks across industries and in the nation’s capital, where he has worked for 25 years. He has investigated and provided qualitative analysis of major companies and CEOs for large institutional investors, advised leadership on emerging challenges and opportunities at AARP, written for major newspapers and magazines, and directed original investigative projects with national news organizations, scaling work and audience across multiple platforms for maximum impact.
As an independent investment researcher, he has investigated and provided qualitative analysis of private and publicly traded companies, management teams and CEOs for mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity firms, large institutional investors and VCs. Clients tend to understand the unique value in supplementing quantitative information to mitigate risk, identify opportunities, and obtain actionable nonpublic intelligence. Subjects have included CEOs of multinational corporations and their management teams, well-known entrepreneurs, and private equity targets in the U.S. and around the world.
As a Washington-based senior strategic advisor to leadership at AARP, he helps guide leaders of one of the nation’s most politically influential member organizations, which also provides products and services to Americans age 50 and older. In this role, he provides actionable, forward-looking competitive, business and political intelligence that identifies emerging challenges, opportunities and market conditions. This includes research to identify revenue-generating potential and risks involving new partnerships, products, technology, health and insurance services.
Before becoming a managing editor at the Center for Public Integrity, he was executive editor of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. Both organizations — nonprofit investigative newsrooms — were at the forefront of shaping a new model for investigative reporting. In late 2010, Epstein engineered the merger of the two newsrooms to create the largest nonprofit devoted to investigative journalism, dwarfing Pro Publica and the CIR. The Center’s stories, videos and multimedia presentations reached unparalleled audiences in the millions — including readers of Newsweek, viewers of ABC and other national TV networks, listeners to NPR and public radio stations, and followers of the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast.
♦ ♦ ♦
As an editor, Epstein directed high-impact investigative reporting projects on air pollution and regulatory failure, decrepit schools attended by children of military personnel, hazards at oil refineries, the influence of Obama campaign bundlers in divvying up stimulus money, how big banks and hedge funds are becoming tax collectors and foreclosing on homes over citizens’ small utility bills, and a mystery ailment killing thousands of sugarcane workers in Central America. He also guided coverage of failed solar startup Solyndra — before the topic swelled into a political firestorm.
As a reporter, Epstein broke stories on executives, political candidates, and delved into significant subjects such as the testing of pharmaceuticals on unwitting patients, the bureaucratic dawdling behind recurring transportation tragedies, and the digital intrusions of cyber spies that compromise corporate and national secrets. His knack for obtaining information, persuading reluctant sources, navigating complicated and seemingly impenetrable bureaucracies, and explaining his findings in clear, fair, and human terms earned him accolades from readers and journalistic peers.
Epstein was part of a collaborative investigative unit at BusinessWeek. The unit, under the leadership of editors Paul M. Barrett and Stephen J. Adler, won dozens of professional awards and national recognition.
As an investigative reporter based in BusinessWeek Magazine’s Washington Bureau, which he joined in 2006, Epstein uncovered significant new information on electronic espionage and theft afflicting government and industry (cover stories: “The New E-spionage Threat” and “Security Breaches Threaten NASA.“) well before the topic made headlines elsewhere.
His stories on lending practices that ensnare poor and unsophisticated borrowers with high-cost loans (cover stores: “The Poverty Business” and “The Ugly Side of Microlending”) led to changes in the practices of lenders and benefactors involved in global microfinance. An examination of lobbying tactics of the bank industry that obstruct homeowner rescues (cover story: “Home Wreckers: Making the Foreclosure Crisis Worse”) showed how the lending industry diluted and delayed fixes even as the financial crisis deepened.
Epstein also delved into troubles with the nation’s antiquated air traffic control system (cover story: “Fear and Loathing at the Airport”), how education reform benefits presidential brother Neil Bush (“No Bush Left Behind”) and how the U.S. military itself carelessly supplies restricted aircraft and weapons parts that wind up in Iran, Syria and China (“F-14 Parts, Anyone?”).
♦ ♦ ♦
Epstein came to Washington in 1986 as a reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, where he uncovered medical experimentation on unsuspecting patients, bureaucratic delays that contributed to recurring aviation and other transportation disasters, favoritism in vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle’s military service and law school admission, Pentagon concealment of a radioactive spill, and self-interested misuse of West Point and the nation’s other military academies.
Starting in the late 1990s, Epstein had a thriving business as a self-employed writer, editor and developer of content for the Web. He investigated self-serving philanthropy of some businesses, the costs and affordability of universal health insurance, and devastating undisclosed side effects of an anti-malaria drug. Clients included The Washington Post, Discovery Channel, Congressional Quarterly, the Stanford University business school-affiliated Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Post-Newsweek’s Techway, and Ziff Davis Media’s CIO Insight. He also launched a self-syndicated travel advice column, RelationTrips, in newspapers such as The Washington Post, and the travel journalism Web site, RelationTrips.com.
♦ ♦ ♦
Earlier, Epstein worked for two Florida newspapers, The Miami Herald and The Tampa Tribune, as well as The (Richmond, Va.) Times-Dispatch, and The Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times. He studied literature and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, where extracurricular activities included a congressional internship, work as a retail sales troubleshooter, and broadcasting for the blind.
Acclaim includes the Barlett & Steele Award for Investigative Business Journalism (for “Prisoners of Debt” and “The Ugly Side of Microlending,” BusinessWeek, 2008), the Folio Editorial Excellence Award (for “The New E-spionage Threat,” BusinessWeek, 2007), an Overseas Press Club of America citation for international reporting (for “The Ugly Side of Microlending,” BusinessWeek, 2007), two National Society of Professional Journalists investigative reporting awards (for “Drug Trials: Do People Know the Truth About Experiments?” The Plain Dealer, 1996, and “The Poverty Business,” BusinessWeek, 2007), and a White House Correspondents Association award (for “Breaking Ranks,” The Plain Dealer, 1990)
Epstein, who grew up in Northern California and had some schooling in Switzerland and Scotland, also writes fiction and enjoys backpacking, bicycling, cooking, gardening, scuba diving, and music. His travels have taken him from Maui to Morocco and to remote parts and high peaks of Alaska, the Himalaya, and Washington’s Cascades. He has two daughters, Serena, 24, and Liana, 20.