JOHN SOLOMON is the president and executive editor of the Washington Guardian and an award-winning investigative journalist and author credited with helping to lead the news industry’s efforts to adapt print journalism to the 21st-century demands of the digital marketplace. His investigative exposes have won numerous national awards, forced widespread changes in government and been published by major news organizations ranging from Newsweek and The New York Times to The Washington Post, 60 Minutes and The Associated Press.
Solomon’s work has shined a light on corruption, waste, fraud and abuses of civil liberties in Washington for two decades, routinely roiled the top echelons of government and even prompted the FBI and Justice Department to comb through his phone records and mail in a futile effort to identify his sources.
His scoops over the years have helped expose the Obama administration’s Fast & Furious gun-running scandal, the FBI’s misuse of national security letters and shoddy lab science, federal scientists’ use of foster children and veterans as guinea pigs in drug experiments and the Bush administration’s failure to piece together the warning signs of an impending terror attack before Sept. 11, 2001.
Before starting the Washington Guardian in summer 2012 with his business partners Jim Williams and Brad Kalbfeld, Solomon served as a senior executive in several media companies, including as Director of News and Investigations for Newsweek magazine, where he helped Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown’s effort to revive one of America's oldest and most respected news magazines. While at Newsweek, Solomon scored an exclusive interview with the hotel maid at the center of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex scandal that garnered worldwide attention. He subsequently published a book on the affair entitled DSK: The Scandal that Brought Down Dominque Strauss-Kahn that is credited for divulging numerous new details about the case and prosecutors’ conduct.
Before Newsweek, Solomon served as Executive Editor of The Center for Public Integrity, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most respected nonprofit investigative journalism organizations in the country. Solomon is credited with reinvigorating the Center’s investigative work while developing an ambitious plan to help the nonprofit begin earning commercial revenues to support its mission and lessen its reliance on philanthropy. The Center launched the nation’s first daily digital newspaper dedicated to investigative reporting, iWatchNews, that won a Webby for its unique design
As Executive Editor of The Washington Times in 2008-09, Solomon rapidly expanded the reach of the newspaper into other mediums while substantially increasing its readership and revenues. In the first year of his tenure, the Times started a wire service that fed continuous news to dozens of news organizations worldwide; a corporate intelligence service aimed at feeding rapid information to law firms, lobbying firms and companies; a radio division that produced hourly newscasts and a daily three-hour nationally syndicated radio show; and a TV division that produced content for nightly and morning newscasts.
Under his stewardship, the newspaper also has won numerous journalism awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2008 and the Society of Professional Journalists 2009 National Public Service Award. The later was awarded to Solomon and a group of editors and reporters who uncovered an untoward medical drug experiment that targeted veterans with PTSD returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The newspaper also finished as a Pulitzer prize finalist in April 2010 for its photo expose on rape as a tool of war in Congo.
During his stint as national investigative correspondent at The Washington Post, Solomon uncovered Rudolph W. Giuliani’s secret security firm clients, John Edwards’ relationship with a controversial hedge fund and the FBI’s misuse of an anti-terrorism tool that allowed agents to gather the phone and computer records of average Americans without court approval. He also produced one of the newspaper’s first joint projects with CBS' 60 Minutes which exposed how the FBI crime lab practiced faulty bullet lead analyses for decades, using the erroneous science to convict hundreds of people without informing them of the problems. The series won the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award for domestic television and the Society of Professional Journalists' top award for investigative reporting for TV.
Before joining The Post, Solomon spent 20 years as a manager and reporter for The Associated Press, where he won the Gramling Achievement Award for coordinating the wire service’s worldwide investigative coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. His stories revealing what information the government knew in advance about terror threats won the Associated Press Managing Editors' award for enterprise reporting.
His reporting has roiled the top levels of government, prompting the FBI to seize his home phone records in 2001 in an effort to unmask his sources and a year later to seize his mail without a warrant to stop him from writing about a confidential FBI lab report he had obtained. The bureau later apologized amidst an outcry from the journalism profession.
Solomon was named in 2005 to oversee a seven-member investigative team dedicated to producing high-impact stories that could play simultaneously on TV, on the Web, on radio and in print. Before that , he spent six years overseeing the administration, personnel and finances of AP’s 150-member Washington bureau as assistant chief of bureau. Solomon joined AP in Milwaukee in 1987 and became news editor there in 1989. He transferred to Washington in 1992 and was named a news editor the following year. In Milwaukee, he supervised coverage of the Jeffrey Dahmer serial murders and an award-winning investigative series on teachers who returned to classrooms after convictions for child molestation.
Solomon previously worked for United Press International in Milwaukee and began his journalism career as an intern with newspaper now known as The Connecticut Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukee. In April 2009, Solomon was awarded Marquette University's prestigious Byline Award for lifelong journalism achievement.