KINGSTON, R.I. – March 15, 2022 – In 2019, Tampa Bay Times reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for uncovering the alarming rate of patient fatalities at a Johns Hopkins’ pediatric heart surgery center.
Two years later, the long-time reporting partners won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for an investigative series that exposed a Florida sheriff who used a data-driven policing program to predict “potential criminals”and monitor and harass them — often without probable cause.
McGrory and Bedi, both now with ProPublica, will discuss their work as investigative reporters on Tuesday, April 5, in the annual Taricani Lecture Series on First Amendment Rights, which is hosted by the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. Alumnus John King ’85, H’10, CNN anchor and chief national correspondent, will moderate the virtual discussion.
The lecture, “Finding the Truth: Investigative Journalism in the Digital Era,” begins at 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. To register, go to the lecture webpage.
McGrory and Bedi combine traditional, dogged reporting techniques with data-driven analysis and digital storytelling on in-depth reporting that relies on the freedom of the press rights protected by the First Amendment. In “Targeted,” their series on the Pasco County, Florida, sheriff’s office, they drew on interviews of victims of harassment and body-camera footage of deputies confronting families, along with academic experts and scholars who provided an understanding of the policing initiative and explained privacy issues and potential harms caused by the program.
Before joining ProPublica, McGrory was an investigative reporter and deputy editor for investigations at the Tampa Bay Times, in St. Petersburg, Florida. McGrory, who holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Hamilton College, started her career at the Miami Herald, covering breaking news, education and local and state government. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida and trains professional journalists through the Poynter Institute and the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism.
Bedi, who reports on the federal government for ProPublica, covered stories on patient safety, worker safety, criminal justice, and government inaction while with the Tampa Bay Times. Bedi, who studied computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Engineering, was a software developer before shifting to journalism. Along with the Pulitzer, he is a two-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, and a winner of the Scripps Howard Award, the IRE Award, the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism, and the National Headliner Award for Journalistic Innovation.
McGrory and Bedi’s investigation into a Pasco County sheriff’s predictive policing initiative led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into the sheriff’s use of student data and more than 30 national and state organizations to oppose the initiative. Their 2018 series on the Johns Hopkins pediatric surgery center earned the George Polk and IRE awards, along with being a finalist for the Pulitzer. McGrory and Bedi’s work led to the resignation of the center’s chief executive officer and chief heart surgeon and more than $40 million in settlements to families.
An award-winning journalist, King joined CNN in 1997 after a dozen years as an Associated Press correspondent, including serving as the wire service’s lead political correspondent for the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. At CNN, he has served as senior White House correspondent from 1999 to 2005 and reported on the Iraq war and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He is the network’s chief national correspondent and anchor of “Inside Politics,” the hour-long program featuring a panel of top political correspondents, and is pivotal to CNN’s daily reporting and coverage of major events, such as “Election Night in America.”
The Taricani Lecture honors Jim Taricani H’18, a veteran Rhode Island journalist and nationally respected investigative reporter for nearly four decades with WJAR-TV. A valued member of the URI family, he was the husband of Laurie White ’81. Shortly after he passed away in 2019, Taricani’s family endowed the Taricani Lecture Series on First Amendment Rights to honor his memory, his work and his courageous commitment to protect First Amendment rights, which are critically important to the news media and society.
Gifts to the Taricani Lecture position URI as a destination for robust discussion regarding journalism and the First Amendment by providing the resources needed to bring distinguished local, national and international journalists to campus to lend their expertise and perspective to this critically important topic. Please, help support the Taricani Lecture.