Explore Harvard's Nieman network Nieman Fellowships Nieman Lab Nieman Reports Nieman Storyboard

Katrina’s Nameless Dead

Rukmini Callimachi
Featured January 3, 2007 This fine piece shows that with muscular writing, even a story about two corpses can be compelling.
Share Button

Bruce DeSilva wrote us this about the piece: “Rukmini Callimachi is an AP bureau writer with less than 5 years in the business. She set out to do a situationer on the 30 Katrina victims still unidentified and unburied. The New Orleans parish coroner had been unwilling to share much information with the press, but Rukmini persuaded him to open up his records, including the sketchy information he had on each body and what had been done to identify it.

“To tell her story, Rukmini decided to focus on the bodies of two elderly men who were found together. In the course of her own reporting, which took a couple of weeks, she identified them. In telling her story, she saved the fact of the identification for the very end.

“Rukmini made use of her great eye for meaningful detail, her vivid yet understated writing style, and her developing understanding of narrative structure. The result is a compelling detective story.

“Her youth should give hope to young journalists eager to try narrative. You don’t have to be a veteran like Ann Hull or Tom French to produce a great narrative, or to find editors who will let you try.”


Read this narrative »

See more notable narratives »