Forty Under 40: Media

Ariel Foxman heads up an impressive list of out media professionals that includes Ariel Levy, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Air Shapiro, Josh Rubin, and Rachel Maddow.

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 06 2009 12:00 AM ET

1027 ARI SHAPIRO 40 UNDER 40 X390 (GRAHAM SMITH) | ADVOCATE.COM

Ari Shapiro | Radio  journalist | 30 | Washington, D.C.

Ari Shapiro, the justice correspondent for National Public Radio, always has a lot of things on his nimble mind, but being gay usually isn't one of them. "I'm undoubtedly where I am today only because people like Frank Kameny were trailblazers," he says. "Would I have been the same kind of trailblazer had I been in his shoes? I don't know. But I have the luxury of not having to be."

Shapiro is a different kind of pioneer, one who leads by example. In 2004 he wed his college boyfriend when San Francisco briefly legalized marriage equality. Shapiro's openness hasn't relegated him to the gay beat -- he occasionally serves as host of Morning Edition, and besides tracking the Department of Justice, he's covered hurricanes, prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, and domestic surveillance. But it was an undercover story on crystal meth abuse at gay bathhouses that won him the prestigious Daniel Schorr journalism award. And the story he calls his most challenging? A piece on Leslie Hagen, an attorney at the Justice Department fired over lesbian rumors. Hagen wouldn't participate in the story, and Shapiro was worried any misinformation could damage Hagen's career prospects. "With my job I can really change things for the better," Shapiro says. "But if I do something wrong, I can change the world -- or an individual's life -- for the worse."

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