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Ari Shapiro is an NPR international correspondent based in London. An award-winning journalist, his reporting covers a wide range of topics and can be heard on all of NPR's national news programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Ari Shapiro working in Mareel Cafe Bar
Ari Shapiro working in Mareel Cafe Bar

Prior to his current post, Shapiro reported from the NPR Washington Desk as White House Correspondent during President Barack Obama's first and second terms, as Justice Correspondent during the George W. Bush administration and as a regular guest host on NPR's newsmagazines. He is also a frequent analyst on CNN, PBS, NBC and other television news outlets.

Today, Mr Shapiro was working in the Mareel Cafe Bar and kindly agreed to a short interview with Shetland Arts. The transcript is below.

Thank you for taking the time to to speak to us. Can you tell us what you're doing in Shetland at the moment?

I came up here for a week to record a few different stories. The main one that brought me up here was part of a series that NPR does every summer called Crime in the City. The series profiles crime writers who set their novels in a particular place. And because the Ann Cleeves’ Shetland novels had been so popular I decided to come up with her and report a piece about Shetland and the crime novels she’s written. And while I was here I decided to do a few other stories as well.

Is this the story you’re working on at the moment then?

I actually filed that one yesterday. Right now I’m doing something about Shetland knitting traditions because knitting has become so popular again. It’s interesting to me that, even within this small cluster of islands, people can identify specific knitting traditions that are different from one island to another. They can look at something and say, “that comes from Fair Isle, that comes from Unst, that looks like Whalsay.”

So you must’ve encountered a lot of different accents and dialects then?

Yeah, I was speaking to two women at the Textile Museum yesterday, and I was interviewing them and they said, “do you want us to talk ‘proper’?” And I said, “no, just the way you normally talk.” And then suddenly I couldn’t understand anything they were saying!

Is this the first time you’ve come into Mareel or have you been here before?

I’ve been in Mareel almost every day that I’ve been here! First, Ann Cleeves brought me here to meet some people and it seemed that every time we were here, she knew somebody who came in. And then she left Wednesday afternoon and I needed to do work and this was just the perfect place to set up shop, have coffee, look out on the water, and work on my laptop.

So what’s your impression of the space? Have you been shown around the building or managed to catch any events?

Well, I haven’t seen any events, but I’ve been given a tour of the space and this is as nice as any arts centre you would find in any major city. It’s beautiful. It’s an amazing resource just to have a place with so much interesting, creative, and dynamic programming. In a community of this size, it's very, very impressive.

And finally, do you think you’ll be coming back to Shetland again in the future?

I would love to come back to Shetland. It is so beautiful here. But it’s also very remote and very hard to get to which I think is probably part of what preserves its beauty.

Thank you Mr Shapiro.

Thank you.


Shapiro's reporting has consistently won national accolades. The Columbia Journalism Review recognized him with a laurel for his investigation into disability benefits for injured American veterans. The American Bar Association awarded him the Silver Gavel for exposing the failures of Louisiana's detention system after Hurricane Katrina. He was the first recipient of the American Judges' Association American gavel Award, recognizing a body of work on U.S. courts and the American justice system. And at age 25, Shapiro won the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for an investigation of methamphetamine use and HIV transmission.

An occasional singer, Shapiro makes guest appearances with the "little orchestra" Pink Martini, whose recent albums feature several of his contributions. Since his debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2009, Shapiro has performed live at many of the world's most storied venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, L'Olympia in Paris, and Mount Lycabettus in Athens.

Shapiro graduated from Yale University magna cum laude and began his journalism career in the office of NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg

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