Template:Wikidata image

David Shankbone, born David Miller circa 1974),[1] is an American photographer and writer. He is noted for a series of interviews he conducted on Wikinews, a website operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, as a result of which he was profiled in the Columbia Journalism Review in January 2009.[2][3] In December 2007, he became the first of the website's citizen journalists to interview a sitting head of state, Israeli President Shimon Peres. Other interview subjects included activist Al Sharpton, writer Augusten Burroughs, journalist Gay Talese, Ingrid Newkirk, and three 2008 U.S. Presidential contenders.[4] The American actor, Billy West, called Shankbone the "Barbara Walters of the Internet," after he revealed to Shankbone details about his childhood abuse.[5]

Shankbone’s photography is primarily associated with the Creative Commons and Wikipedia, where he says his images illustrate over 4,000 articles.[6] Referring to his work as a "documentation of human existence," he has collaborated with professional photographers such as Billy Name, whom he cites as a mentor, Christopher Makos, Peter Palladino, and Keith Green. His photographs have appeared in The New York Times, the Village Voice, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Duke University Press, and LA Weekly, as well as in a number of books, and on blogs and websites.[7]


Shankbone writes that he has lived in 17 cities, six states, and three countries.[6] He attended the University of Colorado and Fordham Law School, leaving the latter one year short of graduation for financial reasons, a situation he described as a trauma. He continued instead with a career in law as a paralegal.[8]


In 2007, Shankbone joined a press junket, which included writers for BusinessWeek, USA Today, PC Week and Salon, on a review of the Israeli technology sector. While there, he requested an interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres, which he was surprised to have granted.[2][9]

Although not Jewish, he considers Israel "a second home,"[10] and he returned in 2009 to photograph the country, and in particular, the Negev desert.[11] He photographed hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari, and when Israeli rock star Ivri Lider toured the United States, Shankbone photographed him backstage at the Bowery Ballroom.


File:Paul Auster Salman Rushdie and David Shankbone.jpg

Shankbone began contributing to Wikipedia in June 2006. By 2007, the Jerusalem Post had cited him as a "leading Wikipedia editor." He became known that year for opposing an attempt to make Santa Claus sound as though he was real over the Christmas holiday, arguing that Wikipedia is "there for knowledge, not for upholding cultural myths." The subject came up over dinner with Yossi Vardi, the founding investor of Mirabilis, who asked, "Who are you to say he is not real? What about God? Can you say that God does not exist?"[9] The Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz, called Shankbone, "the man who offed Santa."[1]

He has several times retired from Wikipedia, only to return later. In July 2009, he said he had retired from his photography because he was upset over a New York Times article critical of Wikipedia's range of photographs, but by September that year he was contributing again.[12][13]


File:Whoopi Goldberg at a NYC No on Proposition 8 Rally.jpg

A journalist for the Brooklyn Rail described Shankbone's photographs as "incredibly wide ranging in their scope."[14] He has photographed Madonna and Kanye West, directors Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, Henry Kissinger and numerous entertainers, authors, models, politicians, lawyers and businessmen.

His photograph and blog post of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey doing voluntary work for Exodus Transitional Community, a former prisoner rehabilitative program, was cited by Andrew Sullivan, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and, as they were the first photographs of the governor’s new life.[15]

In 2008, Time Out New York published a comic strip based on Shankbone's photograph of Miss Understood.[16]


The Columbia Journalism Review profiled Shankbone in 2009. The reporter, Adam Rose, wrote that Shankbone's interviews feel like a "throwback to a time when Oriana Fallaci published long transcripts of her interviews in book form and David Frost broadcast a six-hour sit-down with Richard Nixon.”[2] When Shankbone became the first Wikinews citizen journalist to interview a sitting head of state, it was seen as a milestone in the development of the site.[3]


In June 2008, he began, a blog focusing primarily on his photography and politics. He has continued his interviews on the blog, publishing a series where he asks the same five questions to different people, such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Bebe Buell, and Evan Wolfson.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Liphshiz, Cnaan. Your wiki entry counts, Haaretz, December 25, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rose, Adam. The Wikinews Ace: Why Shimon Peres Sat Down With David Shankbone, Columbia Journalism Review, January-February 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jones, K.C. Wikinews Gets Big Interview, Information Week, January 14, 2008.
  4. Billy West interview.
  5. 6.0 6.1 About David Shankbone,
  6. Nobody's Safe in Cyberspace, Brooklyn Rail.
  7. 9.0 9.1 Shankbone, David. Israel Journal: The Holy Land has an image problem, Wikinews, December 18, 2007.
  8. Mintz, Hillel. My Interview with Mr. David Shankbone, Israel Travel and Tours, accessed October 19, 2009.
  9. Udasin, Sharon. Photo Editing Israel’s Online Image, The Jewish Week, April 3, 2009.
  10. Noam Cohen and the end of my Wikipedia photography
  11. Cohem, Noam. Wikipedia May Be a Font of Facts, but It’s a Desert for Photos, The New York Times, July 20, 2009.
  12. Asper, Colleen. David Shankbone with Colleen Asper, Brooklyn Rail, April 2008.
  13. Sullivan, Andrew. Jim McGreevey's New Mission, The Atlantic, June 30, 2009; Cohen, Aubrey. Jim McGreevey studying to become priest, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 30, 2009.
  14. Ferri, Samuel. I, New York, Time Out New York, February 27-March 4, 2008.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: David Shankbone

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Wikipedia