Jim Taricani, veteran investigative reporter at WJAR Providence, died June 21 at the age of 69. Taricani specialized in uncovering political corruption and shining a light on organized crime. He was at WJAR for more than 30 years, until his retirement in 2014.
WJAR, part of Sinclair, did not specify the cause of death.
Taricani joined WJAR, known as Channel 10, in 1979 as a general assignment reporter. He soon moved to the investigative unit and covered Rhode Island’s infamous mafia and its leader, Raymond Patriarca. He departed in 1995 to be press secretary for then-governor Lincoln Almond, and returned to the station two years later.
Taricani served four months in home confinement for refusing to name the source of an undercover FBI videotape in the Operation Plunder Dome case, which was an FBI investigation into corruption in the Rhode Island capital in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
His family released the following statement: “It’s hard to describe the vast impact Jim had on our lives. His award-winning investigative reporting personified excellence in journalism. Covering organized crime and government corruption with unwavering courage for nearly four decades, Jim was fair, thorough and compassionate. He was committed to the highest professional standards. Yet he remained humble and curious, accessible to everyone regardless of their position.”
WJAR was an NBC O&O until its sale to Media General in 2006.
Taricani had received a heart transplant in 1996.
His family announced the creation of a lecture series on First Amendment Rights to be established at the University of Rhode Island by Taricani’s wife, Laurie White-Taricani. "Journalistic integrity and ethics were deeply important to Jim. Throughout his career, he was a champion of the news media’s First Amendment Rights. He knew that protecting those rights is critically important --- not only for journalists, but for all of us," said White-Taricani.
CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour was an intern at WJAR just after graduating from the University of Rhode Island. Amanpour calls Taricani a mentor. “Our profession is a poorer place with his loss,” she told B&C. “Jim stood up for his principles and was one of the best local investigative reporters in the country. I was fantastically luck to end up in his unit.”