Jimmy’s World: A Figment of the Imagination

1 Feb

The story Jimmy’s World is thoroughly intriguing and well-written. It captures Jimmy and his world artfully, giving readers an insight into unfamiliar territory. The story of this young, drug-addicted boy creates fascination, sympathy and a yearning to know more. It is so good. Almost too good. 

Initially when I read the story a few things popped into my mind as I was reading:

1. How did this reporter get so close to this family? Why did they agree to let her come into their home?

2. The above question then lead me to wonder: Was she getting this information as a declared reporter or was she undercover while reporting this story?

3. How did the school not notice that Jimmy was persistently absent and/or scarred from needles?

4. Why would Ron inject Jimmy right in front of the reporter like that?

5. In the story it says that the mother moved from her previous home because the cops discovered their shooting gallery. They seem settled and comfortable where they are. So, why would she let a reporter write this story that could expose them to the cops, causing them to have to move again?  

All of these things leapt into my mind, however, I automatically felt the need to suppress these questions because the story was so enthralling. The story was so good that I wanted, no, I needed it to be sound. Never mind the fact that the quotes aren’t fluid, the expert sources don’t reference the specific topic of the story directly, etc. The skill of the writer almost acted as putty, covering up the holes in the story. When a story is this fantastic, it is more difficult to be skeptical and critical. 

I wasn’t shocked when I learned that this story was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. But, I was shocked to know that the writer later admitted to fabricating the entire story. There was, nor was there ever, a Jimmy. His world does not actually exist. It’s a little unnerving to realize how easy it is to be blinded. There is no doubt that it is easier and more polite to take everything at face value. It is simpler to assume the best. It’s much harder to assume the worst. But that is what editors must do. They must assume the worst. Editors should assume every fact and source in a story is questionable, until they check it out for themselves. Yes, this path is the one less traveled. But, at least it will feel good to be pleasantly surprised every time stories do check out. 



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