2023 Taricani Lecture


Caitlin Dickerson’s career has been dedicated to uncovering hidden stories with real-life consequences.

For her first major, Peabody award-winning investigation, she discovered records that were buried in the national archives showing that the US government had secretly conducted race-based chemical weapons experiments on American soldiers during World War II. Her stories spurred an official acknowledgment, and a law to help veterans obtain compensation for their injuries. Later, as a New York Times reporter, Dickerson obtained secret documents revealing that the practice of family separations was underway long before the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” policy. Also at The Times, Dickerson investigated a pattern of sexual harassment and abuse of women employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This talk explains the essential role of investigative journalism in our society and how deep research and unassailable evidence can serve as a valuable check against inequality.

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About Caitlin Dickerson

Former NPR and NY Times Investigative Reporter,
Current Atlantic Staff writer

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Peabody Award, and Edward R. Murrow Award, Caitlin Dickerson engages audiences on the power of journalism as a check against systemic inequality, telling stories of remarkable resilience and hope from the front lines of the world’s refugee crisis.

From Ukraine to Romania to Guatemala, Caitlin Dickerson has spent years covering people forced to live on the move for some of the nation’s foremost news outlets. On stage, she dispels common myths about the forcibly displaced, and breaks down the seemingly complex forces that influence their life trajectories—from policy, to rhetoric and public sentiment.

Dickerson conveys the human stories behind the growing global refugee crisis. Her audiences walk away with a deeper understanding of how war and other forms of insecurity that expel people from their homes exacerbate pre-existing inequality.

The Atlantic staff writer has broken stories that have led policies to be reversed and lives to change. She won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Journalism for her September 2022 cover story, “We Need to Take Away Children.” Previously, Dickerson won Peabody and Edward R. Murrow awards for her investigative reporting for NPR. As a reporter for The New York Times, she wrote frequent front-page stories revealing government policies and practices that put vulnerable communities at further risk.

Jim Taricani

Jim Taricani, H’18, the husband of Laurie White, ’81, was a veteran Rhode Island journalist and nationally respected investigative reporter for nearly four decades with WJAR-TV and a valued member of the URI family. Shortly after he passed away in 2019, Jim’s family announced the creation of the Taricani Lecture Series on First Amendment Rights to honor his memory and his work. As a champion of the news media’s First Amendment rights, Jim was dedicated to protecting those rights, which he saw as critically important to society.

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