A veteran of nearly 40 years of broadcasting, Lew Ruggiero spent 27 of those years at KPNX-TV in Phoenix as an assignment editor, field producer, and general assignment reporter for KPNX-TV. During that time, Lew was widely considered the best broadcast reporter in Arizona. Whatever the big story of the moment happened to be — whether it be the tumultuous, 15-month administration of Governor Evan Mecham in 1987-88, the 1997 criminal trial of Governor Fife Symington or the 1991 AZScam corruption sting that snared seven Arizona state legislators accepting bribes on videotape — Lew covered it, and was often the first reporter to break new developments concerning those stories.
In 1982, Lew helped produce KPNX’s Rocky Mountain Emmy Award-winning series “He Told Me Not to Tell,” one of the first in-depth television news explorations of child sexual abuse. Lew won several awards during his TV career from both the Arizona Press Club and the Arizona Associated Press for his coverage of various social, environmental, and political issues around the state. In 1996, the Valley of the Sun Society of Professional Journalists awarded Lew its Sunshine Award for his work on behalf of the First Amendment in trying to keep Arizona public records open and available to the public.
While continuing to work full time as a night-side reporter at KPNX-TV, Lew returned to graduate school in 1999, eventually earning a master’s degree in mass communications from Arizona State University in May 2004. A year later, Northern Arizona University’s School of Communications named Ruggiero its Robert Eunson Distinguished Journalism Lecturer. A graduate school paper on civic journalism that he co-authored with ASU professor John Craft, “An Objective Measure of the Influence of Public Journalism: Framing a Yardstick for Connections Sought by a New Journalistic Paradigm-A Pilot Study,” was published in the Southwestern Mass Communication Journal in 2001.
Lew retired from KPNX in June 2006 and has since served as a private investigator for R3 Investigations, where he has provided in-depth investigations in criminal and civil matters, including a complex, nationwide multi-million-dollar federal fraud case. Lew also has handled both defense and mitigation work in sexual assault, aggravated assault, and Arizona death penalty cases. He has also done civil plaintiff’s investigative work in lawsuits filed against the state prison system’s contract food provider, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Phoenix Police Department.