City Desk

Washington City Paper‘s Dave Jamieson Wins Livingston Award

Dave JamiesonJust announced: Dave Jamieson, a former Washington City Paper staff writer, has just won the prestigious Livingston Award for his story "Letters From an Arsonist." The story—a must read!—ran as the cover story on June 1, 2007. The award brings with it not just a rubber-chicken lunch, but $10,000.

It's a big deal. The Livingston Awards, which are given out to journalists under 35 and are the nation's largest all-media reporting prizes, are always a big deal. Jamieson, who won in the local reporting category, had to beat out heavyweights at the Washington Post and other fine publications and broadcast networks with more resources.

But this is no upset. His story exemplified what all great stories do. It uncovered—with rich details and new facts—the story of the arsonist who burned our city for years and years. The story provided a haunting, unforgettable profile of the man behind all those fires and also broke serious news. Through dogged investigative work, Jamieson uncovered that the man was responsible for more than the one death that had been previously reported—and had to inform the children of two of the victims that their parents did not die as the result of an "accidental" fire.

While most of you have read his piece, few of you have an idea of what Jamieson went through to get his story just right. The arsonist's letters would come in batches and then suddenly stop. A trip out to the Indiana prison for a one-on-one interview came to nothing. But he stuck with it for a year.

The story is a testament to what journalism can do and should do more often. In this era of cutbacks and imperatives to blog!blog!blog! Jamieson proved that journalism is still best served by expert reporting and expert writing. There's not a wasted sentence in his piece (credit should go to his editors Erik Wemple, Andrew Beaujon, and Jule Banville as well). If you want a textbook case of why this publication should still matter to District residents and its owners down south, this is it.

So today, we are inspired by Jamieson's news. And we will continue to be inspired by Jamieson's arsonist story and his feature pieces.

Congrats, man. You earned it.

(photo by Darrow Montgomery)

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  • catherine

    congrats, dave! that's really great.

  • sara.h

    congrats, Jamo. Loved the story.

  • Cranky Editor Guy

    Fucking awesome (expletive inserted since this is the City Paper after all). Congrats to Dave for all the work on such a fantastic story and the City Paper for being a place that actually DOES journalism.

  • Arthur Delaney

    Beers on Jamo!

  • Ryan Grim

    Tune Inn!

  • Tony Bayne

    Hey, I know you from beer! Good Job!

  • Eaton

    Awesome, Dave!

  • Mazel Tov

    well holy fucking shit! congrats! well deserved. and you beat out beckman's hub. which is a feat.

  • Ernest

    Arsonist, is he? He looks more like a Black Cat patron to me. Alternative and all that. Appearances can often deceive, can't they?

    I simply resent arsons.

  • Matt S

    This was perhaps the best story ever to appear in Washington City Paper.

    Congrats on a winning, it was well deserved as this was a great and well written piece.

  • Sarah G

    Yay Jamo!!

  • Tim Carman

    That was a great piece of journalism. Congrats, Dave.

  • Huddo

    Dave came to see my band play randomly last summer in Cleveland. This was way before he had money and fame. He's also tight on 3rd base and handsome.

  • Mike K

    Congrats Dave! Very well-deserved!

  • Jack Pfeiffer

    Congratulations, it was a fantastic article and you fully deserve the award.

  • Hsu

    congrats, dude. it really was an amazing story. are we going to be seeing this photo on your book's jacket?

  • Trey Graham

    Way to go, Jamieson. Them's some chops.

  • chelita

    The piece on the DC arsonist was absolutely spellbinding. I read it late at night when I should have gone to bed, but couldn't stop reading it. Excellent, excellent work.

  • Petey Mo

    A year later, this story continues to haunt me. There is that one house on S. Dakota Ave. (complete with melty siding and all) that gives me shivers every time I go by. Whenever I pass by, images from Dave's story fill my head, and I can't help but think of this sad, tortured man setting all these houses aflame, tormented by his dark desires. Congratulations on winning the recognition you richly earned, Dave, and for creating a lasting piece of journalism that will endure for a long, long time.

  • Sasha

    Just re-read it. I hope it's made a movie, with the arsonist played by maybe Terrence Howard. He's light skinned, soft-spoken. Sweatt is one sick fuck, a tormented man. And this would make a great movie, some of the $ going to the victims' families.

  • Dave White

    Congratulations Dave. Ray told me about the award and sent me a link to the story. I'm putting a copy of it up at the gym.

  • http://a aa

    this guy sucks

  • Chase

    ya... that report you did on lacrosse is BULL S***. you need to get your facts right... the stories you told happen in every school around the US... i love lacrosse more than anything... and the things you said about it were wrong, inaccurate, and most of all motivated by a desire for revenge uppon the very lacrosse players that cause you to feel so unwanted. you should really try to get to know those lax players before you bash them. i know a lot of lax players that would be happy to hurt you after what you said in this article, but they are good people with a good life ahead of them, and thy wouldnt want to throw it away by taking you out. you really need to be more accurate with your articles. try presenting some proof of research