University of IllinoisCollege of Media

Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting


Brant Houston. Professor Brant Houston holds the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting and teaches investigative and advanced reporting in the Department of Journalism in the College of Media at Illinois.

Houston became the chair in 2007 after serving for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a 5,000-member organization, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 17 years.

Houston also is the author of four editions of the textbook, "Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide," and co-author of the fourth edition and fifth edition of "The Investigative Reporter's Handbook." Currently he is working on projects involving nonprofit journalism, ethnic media newsrooms, and new technologies for news-gathering.

Houston serves at the chair of the board of directors of the Investigative News Network,, a coalition of nonprofit journalism centers that he helped found in 2009. He also is a co-founder of the Global Investigative Journalism Network,, which began in 2003, and of the Investigative Journalism Education Consortium, In addition, he oversees an award-winning online newsroom in Illinois' Champaign County known

Knight Foundation logo The Knight Foundation says the chair holders are "professional journalists who inspire excellence; collaborators who reach out and innovate; catalysts around whom universities can build expanded programs; visionaries who strive to improve American journalism." There are chairs at only 21 universities in the United States.

Houston succeeded William Gaines, who retired in August 2007 and is now professor emeritus at Illinois. Gaines, who wrote a textbook on journalism, taught students to engage in projects such as identifying the worst-performing state-level judge in America and creating how-to guides on specific topics related to investigative reporting.

Houston was part of the newsroom staff of The Kansas City Star that won a Pulitzer Prize for its work on the 1981 walkway collapse at the city's Hyatt Regency Hotel, and wrote the lead story on the survivors after the collapse. He also was one of four investigative team members that won a Headliners Award for its work on misconduct by Kansas City area building inspectors.

At The Hartford Courant, he won awards for investigations into state and federal government programs and was the paper’s database editor. During a total of 14 years at IRE, both as a managing director and as executive director, Houston oversaw the creation of numerous training programs nationally and internationally and also helped it strengthen and increase its membership.


Questions or comments about the Knight Chair?

Please contact Professor Brant Houston at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.