From the Newsroom: Remembering Anthony Shadid

By Tom Nagorski

Feb 17, 2012 12:47pm

Obviously a newsroom always takes it hard when tragedy strikes a reporter or producer in the field – but it’s hard to overstate the impact of the news that Anthony Shadid had died while on assignment in Syria. We all knew his work – we on the Foreign Desk here often read his work for guidance, for nuance, and – frankly – we often forwarded his work to guide our own people in the field. Those who knew him better have been sending tributes – a sample here:

Global Affairs Anchor Christiane Amanpour: “A staggering loss. He was a great person. His journalism sought the human face of every conflict he covered. He turned difficult international issues into compelling story-telling and reminded us each and every time one of his articles, or books appeared, why we need people like Anthony Shadid to uphold a valiant and indispensable tradition, that of foreign news reporting. And why all the stories he told, all the places he went, really really matter. He died doing his life’s work. I can only imagine what his wife and children, his parents and family and friends, and all who loved him must be going through. I shudder thinking of his last hours under stress in Syria, as his condition overwhelmed him. My heart goes out to his colleague Tyler Hicks too, who surely provided him every last comfort he could. We will not see the likes of Anthony Shadid again, for a long, long time.”

Producer Nasser Atta: ”The first time I met Anthony was just after he’d been shot and injured in Ramallah in 2002. It was during a major Israeli incursion into the city during the second intifada. My longtime friend Charles Sennott – a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Boston Globe – called me from Boston to ask if I could go to the hospital to help Anthony, see if he needed anything.  I told Charlie of course, that I would drop everything and head over. We became friends and since then I’d seen Anthony many times across the Middle East, doing his best to inform people with his brilliant narratives, piecing together the puzzle for his readers to find the logic in so many illogical events. His deep understanding of the culture, history, psychology, language, and the intensity of emotion is what made him one of the best storytellers in one of the most complicated regions in the world. His death is a big loss for his family but also for the people of the Middle East and his readers.”

Correspondent Alex Marquardt: “I met Shadid only fleetingly, in Cairo almost two weeks into the revolution that took down President Hosni Mubarak. He came by our hotel to take part in a roundtable with ‘This Week’ anchor Christiane Amanpour and the BBC’s John Simpson, among others. I had been a Middle East correspondent for all of a month and was a bit star-struck by this pillar of Middle East journalism. Since then, there have been countless mornings that began with emails from the Foreign Desk in New York that started with, ‘You see Shadid today?’ He managed a balance that so few can: a deep understanding of this region, its history and people; combined with a writing style with turns of phrase that were unmatched. Every so often, Shadid’s byline would disappear from the day-of news for a while and you would wonder where he was, what deep dive he was taking in which of the countries caught up in the Arab Spring. And inevitably he would pop back up with a great piece with fantastic color that so succinctly summed up what was going on and why it mattered. I was hoping to reach out to Anthony on a recent trip to Beirut but there wasn’t enough time. It saddens me greatly that there will be no more ‘you see Shadid today?’ e-mails that were such pleasures to read.”

Correspondent Reena Ninan: “When every journalist was trying to get out of Iraq in 2003 he begged the Washington Post to let him remain during the war. His fearless reporting and exceptional writing won him a Pulitzer. Everyone knew his tremendous gift for reporting. But he was also the most humble, patient, generous, kind-hearted man, in many ways the opposite of what you would expect a hardened war correspondent to be.”

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