The Death of Anthony Shadid
"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 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.)
"In its citation accompanying the nomination, The Times wrote:
"'Steeped in Arab political history but also in its culture, Shadid recognized early on that along with the despots, old habits of fear, passivity and despair were being toppled. He brought a poet’s voice, a deep empathy for the ordinary person and an unmatched authority to his passionate dispatches.'"
When I was in graduate school, I saw Anthony Shadid speak on Iraq at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. His textured and insightful understandings of that country have often proven prophetic. He also understood what too many forget: That politics, diplomacy, and war matter most for the effects they have on individuals living their own everyday lives. I never met the man in person, but he was a conduit through which I felt connected to many around the world.
I wish I could speak of an "Anthony Shadid" stage in reporting on the Middle East, but he died at age 43, far too young and far too soon. That is the real tragedy, not just that a voice has been lost, but that a man so talented will never be able to say all he could have, or allow others to who will now be silenced with him.