The reporter’s editor had one emotionless reply for him: “Find the body.”
In a Sept. 2004 Metro story, Ian Shapira had authored a story about a homeless guy who turned out to maybe be not so dead. In today’s Story Lab, WaPo‘s Shapira recalls those tense moments of going out and trying to “find the body.” Well, he found it. Find out what happened here. As one reader remarks on Shapira’s story, “Quite the candid first-person essay.”
Maybe most telling is Shapira’s final graph:
I threw my arms up in the air, elated that I had not insulted his family, relieved that I had not published incorrect information; the other reporters in the bureau shook my hand, congratulating me on the discovery. I gave the hospital official the number for Reed’s relative/friend, so she would learn the news through more official channels. Then, I called my boss back. He didn’t seem thrilled or relieved. He just wanted me to get back to work.
Some readers are less than thrilled with Shapira. One wrote, “Ian is a ghoul – he threw his arms up, elated – at the death of a human being. You are sick! I don’t need to ask what you’ll be for Halloween.”
Another remarked, “Soooo, being right about the story was more important than the fact that Jimmy was dead? Sad, sad state of affairs.” And still another took it to religious proportions: “The kind and gentle Jimmy Reed passes away, while the vacuous and self-absorbed Ian Shapira lives on. Clearly, there is no God.”
FishbowlDC has contacted Shapira for comment. Should he provide one we’ll bring it to you.
> Update: From Shapira: “The piece makes clear that my elation was purely an expression of relief that the original story was accurate.”