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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Shadid Curriculum: Venezuela Undone

Hannah Dreier, formerly a reporter for the Associated Press, was a 2017 (and 2019) finalist for the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics.

With this series, I was continually balancing the journalistic imperative to stay uninvolved with what I felt was my duty as a human being.

Hannah Dreier

Balancing Ethical and Professional Duties

Associated Press correspondent Hannah Dreier chronicled the economic unraveling of Venezuela by reporting on the suffering of Venezuelan citizens and the failing institutions around them. These stories contributed to the Venezuela Undone series.

While reporting on long food lines growing across Venezuela, Dreier witnessed an elderly woman collapse in front of her. Desperate to maintain their place in line, the crowd was unmoved and prepared to let her lie unconscious in the street. Dreier intervened, held her upright until she came to, gave her water and called her son, reasoning that she had a moral imperative to assist the woman. 

Later, while reporting on failing Venezuelan schools, a student Dreier interviewed called her when their family hadn’t eaten for a day to ask if she could buy them groceries. Dreier didn’t, reasoning that purchasing food would be tantamount to paying a source for participating in a story. A few months after the story ran, Dreier brought the family a car full of pantry staples. Many sources for this series were food insecure, and by the end of the project, Dreier carried snacks in her bag to hand out.

Hannah Dreier on Reporting “Venezuela Undone”


Q1: Do you agree with Dreier’s actions? Justify your answer professionally and ethically.

Q2: How can journalists resolve conflicts when their professional obligations seem at odds with their obligations to other people? 

Q3: In the Venezuela Undone series, identify another point where Dreier intervened. Use the new intervention you discovered to re-evaluate your previous answers (do you approve, was professionalism or ethics more important in the scenario, and did these two concepts overlap?)