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Mary Pat Flaherty (BSJ77)

  • Mary Pat Flaherty (BSJ77)

  • Mary Pat Flaherty, The Pittsburgh Press (BSJ77)

In her 35-year career, Mary Pat Flaherty has investigated complicated subjects and helped readers understand why they should care about them. She won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting for uncovering black market trafficking in human organs. Her work has driven debate and reform in government programs and non-profits.

After graduating with a BSJ from Medill in 1977, she first worked at The Pittsburgh Press, where she stayed for 15 years. When the Press shut down in 1992, Fla­herty went to The Washington Post where she worked as an investigative projects editor. She returned to investigative reporting in 2000, and continues to work on investigative and long-range projects.

Flaherty pulls apart complicated subjects and relates them directly to the reader. The approach has made Flaherty’s work a key driver of debate and reform.

She covered topics from the design problems in a much touted but flawed Marine helicopter V-22 Osprey, to exposing American drug firms that tested experimental drugs overseas because they would not clear U.S. ethical standards.

Flaherty’s investigation into failures in the U.S. transplantation system with fellow reporter Andrew Schneider won the 1986 Specialized Report­ing Pulitzer. She was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1995 for a series about careless and rushed hiring practices in the D.C. police department.

Her recent reporting has uncovered undisclosed losses from fraud and embezzlements at non-profit organizations nationwide. Flaherty also developed a public searchable database for donors to keep an eye on the funds.

Flaherty still seizes the opportunity to chase “goofy corner news” for the lower right corner of the front page, like a recent story about an airborne deer hitting a jogger in northern Virginia.

In addition to her Pulitzer Prize, Flaherty’s work has received other national recognition including receiv­ing the George Polk award, a Sigma Delta Chi national award and an Overseas Press Club award.