Reporter portrait: Mary K. Reinhart

By Lex Talamo

Year of Reporting: Mary K. Reinhart joined The Arizona Republic in 2010 to cover the capitol and to investigate state agencies.

Country Where the Journalist Has Worked: In the U.S. During her time at The Arizona Republic, she wrote stories about Medicaid, child welfare issues, the mentally ill and legislative issues in Arizona.

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Ethical Issue: Reinhart was one of three principal reporters who investigated Arizona’s Child Protective Services and produced the award-winning series, “CPS: A Year in Review.” Her reporting uncovered, among many other things, thousands of back-logged cases, caseloads that were 22 percent higher than the national average, inadequate response times to most calls placed to the Child Abuse Hotline and the fact that the agency was returning children to dangerous homes where they were further abused or killed. The publication of these stories caused Governor Jan Brewer to overhaul Child Protective Services and to create the new Department of Child Safety earlier this year.

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The ethical issues inherent in reporting a series like this center around working with vulnerable young people—in particular, taking care to minimize harm. According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics, reporters should “show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage” and “use special sensitivity when dealing with children.” Because “CPS: A Year in Review” was a multimedia project, there were ethical dilemmas surrounding the use of photographs and videos that identified children, their graves or other potentially graphic material. Reinhart’s reporting sought to “tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly” and to “diligently seek out subjects of news stories and give them a chance to respond”—something she did with the foster youth and some the parents.

Links to Important Pieces:



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