Bill Dedman

Bill Dedman (born 1960) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, an investigative reporter for Newsday, and co-author of the biography of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.[1][2]

Bill Dedman
Born1960 (1960)
EducationBaylor School, Chattanooga Washington University in St. Louis
OccupationJournalist, author
WebsiteEmpty Mansions book

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

The Color of Money

In 1989, Dedman received the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for The Color of Money,[3] 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. The first stories in The Color of Money, published May 1-4, 1988, disclosed that Atlanta's banks and savings and loans, although they had made loans for years in even the poorest white neighborhoods of Atlanta, did not lend in middle-class or more affluent black neighborhoods. The focus moved to lenders across the nation with the January 1989 article, "Blacks turned down for home loans from S&Ls twice as often as whites."[10]

As the Pulitzer committee wrote, Dedman's reporting "led to significant reforms."[11]

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, now known more often as data journalism or data-driven journalism.

Prompted by The Color of Money, Congress expanded the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act to provide more information to the public on the pattern of activity by all mortgage lenders. The group Investigative Reporters and Editors published a guide for journalists on using HMDA data to analyze lending patterns.[12]

The U.S. Justice Department responded to The Color of Money by focusing greater attention on unequal lending, suing a large savings and loan association in United States v. Decatur Federal Savings & Loan. In the first major case alleging a pattern or practice of racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the United States, the federal government alleged that Decatur Federal applied stricter underwriting standards to African-American applicants than to white applicants and devised ways to avoid dealing with African-Americans. In a consent decree, the bank agreed to pay $1 million to compensate 48 victims of discrimination and to take a series of corrective measures to ensure compliance with federal fair lending laws.[13][14]

Banking regulators increased pressure on lenders to comply with the guidelines of the Community Reinvestment Act, which encourages deposit-holding financial institutions to make loans throughout their service areas. For the first time, regulators in 1989 denied an application for a bank merger on the grounds of poor performance under the Community Reinvestment Act.[15]

Along with responses from lawmakers and regulators, Atlanta's largest banks agreed to lend $65 million at low rates to moderate-income borrowers, particularly on the city's black Southside.[16]

Life and career

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 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 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.[17]

From 2006 to 2014, Dedman was an investigative reporter for NBC News and, formerly known as, uncovering stories including firefighter deaths from faulty equipment,[18] fraud in Pentagon efforts to identify war dead,[19] widespread failures to inspect highway bridges,[20][21] efforts by U.S. officials to hide the risk of earthquake damage to nuclear power plants,[22] hidden visitor logs at the Obama White House,[23] suppression of Hillary Rodham Clinton's college thesis at the request of the Clinton White House,[24][25] and journalists making campaign contributions.[26]

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.[27] He was one of the four lead reporters on Newsday's 2019 undercover investigation of racial steering by real estate agents, Long Island Divided. The investigation revealed that Long Island’s dominant residential real estate brokerages help solidify racial segregation. Realtors frequently directed white customers toward white areas, while directing minority buyers toward more integrated neighborhoods. They also avoided doing any business in communities with large minority populations.[28]

Dedman 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,[29] and the textbook The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Digital Age..[30]

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.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34][35]

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.[36][37][38] 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.[39]

Hollywood writer-director Ryan Murphy optioned Empty Mansions for a feature film.[40]


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 September 5, 2015.
  2. Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. 1998. ISBN 9781573561112. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  3. "The Color of Money".
  4. "Long Island Divided: A three-year Newsday investigation uncovered widespread evidence of unequal treatment by real estate agents on Long Island".
  5. "Speed Trap - Boston Globe".
  6. "Can the '20th hijacker' of Sept. 11 stand trial?" (PDF). October 24, 2006.
  7. Dedman, Bill; Stepp, Laura Sessions (April 29, 1990). "YEARS OF DEFIANCE ROOTS OF STALLINGS'S REBELLION" via
  8. Stepp, Laura Sessions; Dedman, Bill (April 30, 1990). "CONCERNS ABOUT STALLINGS'S LIFESTYLE FUELED CONFLICT" via
  9. Dedman, Bill; Stepp, Laura Sessions (May 1, 1990). "STALLINGS BUILDS A BLACK CHURCH FAR FROM ROME" via
  12. Squires, Gregory (2011). Organizing Access to Capital: Advocacy and the Democratization. ISBN 9781592138548.
  14. Fair Lending: Federal Oversight and Enforcement Improved but Some Challenges Remain. December 1996. ISBN 9780788136665.
  17. Dedman, Bill (September 7, 1998). "BASEBALL; Fan Snaring No. 62 Faces Big Tax Bite" via
  18. "Flaws in firefighters' last line of defense" (PDF). February 5, 2007.
  19. Investigations. "Pentagon unit held 'phony' ceremonies for MIAs, using planes that can't fly".
  20. "Late inspections of bridges put travelers at risk" (PDF). January 30, 2008.
  21. "Feds let states delay inspections of bad bridges" (PDF). January 31, 2008.
  22. "U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted".
  23. "Obama blocks list of visitors to White House". June 16, 2009.
  24. "Reading Hillary Rodham's Hidden Thesis: Clinton White House asked Wellesley to close off access" (PDF). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  25. "How the Clintons wrapped up Hillary's thesis: 'A stupid political decision,' says her former Wellesley pol-sci professor" (PDF). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  26. "Journalists dole out cash to politicians (quietly)" (PDF). June 21, 2007.
  27. "Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bill Dedman to join Newsday — Empty Mansions, the No. 1 bestselling biography of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark and her family". September 16, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  29. Ettema, James S.; Glasser, Theodore Lewis; Glasser, Theodore (May 2, 1998). Custodians of Conscience: Investigative Journalism and Public Virtue. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231106757 via Google Books.
  30. Foreman, Gene (September 13, 2011). The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781444359640 via Google Books.
  31. Dedman, Bill; Goldberg, Jeffrey (July 26, 1989). "MARCH CLEARS OUT PROSTITUTION ZONE" via
  32. "Huguette Clark". NBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  33. " Uses Slide Show for In-Depth Narrative Story". Poynter.
  34. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. New York City: Ballantine Books. 2013. ISBN 9780345534521. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  35. "Co-author of 'Empty Mansions' dies at age 80".
  36. "E-Book Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - September 29, 2013 - The New York Times".
  37. Investigations (September 3, 2015). "Huguette Clark book coming from Random House". NBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  38. Dedman, Bill; ), Paul Clark Newell (Jr (2013). Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune: Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell Jr.: 9780345534521: Books. ISBN 978-0345534521.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  39. "Covers released for Chinese edition of Empty Mansions".
  40. Anita Busch. "Ryan Murphy Options Movie Rights To Bestseller 'Empty Mansions' - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
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