Steve Fainaru works for ESPN’s investigative reporting team as Senior Writer, ESPN Digital and Print Media.
Fainaru in 2010 helped launch The Bay Citizen, an award-winning online news organization based in San Francisco. Fainaru, who will remain based in California, served as the publication’s managing editor for news and editor-in-chief.
He previously worked 10 years as a staff writer for The Washington Post. There, Fainaru served as an investigative reporter in sports, covered the war on terrorism in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and spent five years on the newspaper’s foreign staff, primarily covering the Iraq War. His series on private security contractors in Iraq won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting and the Overseas Press Club’s Hal Boyle Award for best newspaper or wire-service reporting from abroad. Fainaru was also a Pulitzer finalist in 2006 for his articles on the deadly violence faced by U.S. troops as the insurgency in Iraq intensified.
Earlier, Fainaru worked 11 years at The Boston Globe, covering the Boston Red Sox and Wall Street and serving three years as the newspaper’s Latin America Bureau Chief. His sports coverage for the Globe and the Post earned four first-place finishes in the Associated Press Sports Editors competition.
Fainaru graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and received a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He is the author of Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries in Iraq, which was published in the fall of 2008, and is the co-author of The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba and the Search for the American Dream, which chronicled the odyssey of pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and his defection from post-Cold War Cuba.
Mark Fainaru-Wada joined ESPN in November 2007 as an investigative reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise Unit, which is charged with developing long-form, investigative features to be presented across multiple platforms.
The San Francisco-based Fainaru-Wada contributes to all aspects of ESPN’s news and information programming, including SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and ESPNEWS, as well as ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, and ESPN the Magazine.
He currently is working with his brother and ESPN colleague, Steve Fainaru, on a book about the NFL and brain damage, to be published in the fall by Crown Arhcetype, a division of Random House. As well, the PBS program Frontline, in partnership with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, is producing a documentary based on the reporters’ research. Over the past year, the brothers have presented a series of investigative and enterprise stories on the topic for various ESPN platforms.
Fainaru-Wada’s notable work for ESPN has included breaking the story, along with colleague T.J. Quinn, that Ryan Braun had tested positive for steroids; an investigation into the Dallas Cowboys use of factories that employ workers in sweatshop conditions to make team apparel; an examination of the relationship between the demise of physical education in the public schools and the nation’s child obesity crisis; and an analysis of the impact of the economy’s collapse on grass-roots sports in small-town Wisconsin.
Previously, at the San Francisco Chronicle, the work of Fainaru-Wada and colleague Lance Williams on the BALCO steroids case earned them a string of national honors, including the George Polk, Edgar A. Poe, Dick Schaap Excellence in Journalism and Associated Press Sports Editors awards. In March 2006 Fainaru-Wada and Williams published “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports,” which became an immediate New York Times best-seller and prompted Major League Baseball to launch an investigation into steroid use in its sport.
In May 2006, Fainaru-Wada and Williams were issued subpoenas to testify before a grand jury investigating the source(s) of some of the information they published in The Chronicle and their book. The reporters vowed not to reveal their sources and were appealing their sentence of up to 18 months in prison when the government dropped the subpoenas.
He previously worked for the San Francisco Examiner, for which he wrote enterprise stories and covered Stanford football and men’s basketball. He also was a national sportswriter for Scripps Howard News Service, covering the Masters, Wimbledon and the Final Four. He has worked at the National all-sports daily, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel.
Fainaru-Wada is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.