'Journalist without Peer': Anthony Shadid Dies at 43 in Syria

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Common Dreams

'Journalist without Peer': Anthony Shadid Dies at 43 in Syria

by
Common Dreams staff

Mr. Shadid took notes in Najaf, Iraq, in December of 2003. Fluent in Arabic, with a gifted eye for detail and contextual writing, Mr. Shadid captured dimensions of life in the Middle East that many others failed to see. Those talents won him a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2004 for his coverage of the American invasion of Iraq and the occupation that followed, and a second Pulitzer in 2010, also for his Iraq reporting, both of them for The Washington Post. (Credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

"Anthony Shadid was a journalist without peer, the best of our generation. Courage. Kindness. Compassion. This loss is immeasurable." --author, journalist Naomi Klein (@naomiaklein)

"The flag of international journalism flies at half-mast for the great Anthony Shadid." --journalist Jeremy Scahill (@jeremyscahill)

"RIP Anthony Shadid. The world has lost one of its greatest journalists. An intrepid poet who reported on the Middle East like no other." --journalist Sharif Kouddous (@sharifkouddous)

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"I don't think there's any story worth dying for, but I do think there are stories worth taking risks for." --Anthony Shadid

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From the New York Times:

Anthony Shadid, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent who died on Thursday at 43, had long been passionately interested in the Middle East, first because of his Lebanese-American heritage and later because of what he saw there firsthand.

Mr. Shadid spent most of his professional life covering the region, as a reporter first with The Associated Press; then The Boston Globe; then with The Washington Post, for which he won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2010; and afterward with The New York Times. At his death, from what appeared to be an asthma attack, he was on assignment for The Times in Syria.

Mr. Shadid’s hiring by The Times at the end of 2009 was widely considered a coup for the newspaper, for he had been esteemed throughout his career as an intrepid reporter, a keen observer, an insightful analyst and a lyrical stylist. Much of his work centered on ordinary people who had been forced to pay an extraordinary price for living in the region — or belonging to the religion, ethnic group or social class — that they did.

He was known most recently to Times readers for his clear-eyed coverage of the Arab Spring. For his reporting on that sea change sweeping the region — which included dispatches from Lebanon and Egypt — The Times nominated him, along with a team of his colleagues, for the 2012 Pulitzer in international reporting. (The awards are announced in April.)

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Steve Coll, writing at The New Yorker this morning:

One of Anthony’s was to frame a story around the proprietor of a single café, bookstore or university department. It’s not easy to bring a passive character and setting of that sort to life but Anthony did it again and again. Reading the whole body of his work was like reading a linked series of stories about a world of (usually) men bathed in cigarette smoke, hyped up on coffee, and ready to talk about why the world is the way it is. Like a great short story writer, Shadid’s use of these characters was neither too heavy nor too light; he let them breathe and speak, and they allowed the reader to join in, to slip inside worlds and ways of thinking normally closed off.

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And Greg Mitchell writes at The Nation:

This is certain to be one of the biggest losses to journalism in years. Shadid, who spoke fluent Arabic, had long provided perhaps the most valuable coverage of the so-called “Arab street.” He once said no story was worth dying for, but some were worth taking big risks for, and recently indicated that Syria was one such story.

In a statement, Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the Times, said, “Anthony died as he lived—determined to bear witness to the transformation sweeping the Middle East and to testify to the suffering of people caught between government oppression and opposition forces.”

He leaves a wife and two children. His much-awaited memoir about his ancestors and heritage in Lebanon is to be published next month. Shadid was born in Oklahoma City in 1968.

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