WaPo‘s Ian Shapira appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday to discuss his recent heart-wrenching Facebook story involving a mother dying from a heart defect shortly after delivering her baby boy. Touching story. Genuinely sad. Legitimately interesting way to tell a story using Facebook. Shapira made a big point of asking permission of the family before he wrote the story. He told CNN host Howard Kurtz in no uncertain terms that he would not have written the story had the husband of the deceased woman said no.
But where Shapira’s rationalizing rang false involved a previous piece Kurtz asked him about on “Young Teachers Gone Wild” from 2008. Shapira claimed he “got permission” from the teachers before doing the story. But actually, he did not. He sought comments from the teachers – yes – and reasoned that getting quotes from them was the same as permission. But that’s not the same sentiment as the aforementioned story of the mother. Shapira would have written the story whether the teachers wanted it or not. Kurtz brushed right by this point.
Our point is, let’s just not confuse the two — or the sentiment that Shapira always asks his subjects for permission. Few reporters do.