She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism, with a BA in news writing and photojournalism, and from Ohio State University with a MA, and where she was a 1996 Kiplinger Fellow. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Fiction from Northwestern University.
She was a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times, Dayton Daily News, the Newport News Daily Press, and Florida Today. She was visiting professor of journalism at the University of St. Thomas. She was a books editor and editorial page editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. While at the Chicago Sun-Times she changed the editorial stance from conservative to progressive. She was a communications director at the University of Chicago and its hospitals.
Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, U.S. News & World Report, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Salon, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. She has been a resident at Ragdale, the Vermont Studio Center, New York Mills, Hedgebrook and Norcroft.
Reed was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar in 2016-2017 teaching at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kyiv, Ukraine.
She is currently an assistant professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.
She was previously an assistant professor of journalism at Northern Michigan University and its adviser to NMU's student newspaper The North Wind for the 2014–15 academic year. However, Reed was voted out of the position as the adviser at the end of the school year by the newspaper's board of directors, for what Reed claimed was retaliation on the investigative journalism she was teaching her students. Reed brought the board members to federal court in June 2015, but she later pulled out from the case when the judge denied a preliminary injunction that would have reinstated her as adviser. Reed advocated for a new law that offers further protections for student speech and prevents schools and universities from retaliating against media advisors for material written by students.
In April 2016, Northern Michigan University was awarded a national "muzzle award" by Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression for its treatment of Reed and the student newspaper. In November 2016, the American Association of University Professors issued a report called "Threats to the Independence of Student Media" and cited NMU and its treatment of Reed and the student newspaper as an example of aggressive behavior to stifle investigative reporting.
She is married to former Chicago Tribune editor Greg Stricharchuk.
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- Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns. Berkley Books. 2004. ISBN 978-0-425-19511-6.; Penguin, 2010, ISBN 978-0-425-23238-5
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- Jesse, David (April 15, 2015). "NMU journalists allege coercion". Detroit Free Press.
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- Kozlowski, Kim (December 1, 2016). "Report highlights press restraint at Mich. universities". Detroit News.
- Musto, Peter (December 31, 2016). "Student Newspapers at U.S. Colleges Face Pressure". Voice of America Learning English.
- "Greg Stricharchuk". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2015-05-20.