Leila Fadel has done Northeastern proud. The 2004 graduate, now Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, has won a George R. Polk Award for foreign reporting. McClatchy has assembled a portfolio of her work here.
The very first piece, an account of a heart-stopping drive from the Baghdad to the Jordanian border last October, demonstrates passion, courage and a commitment to the truth. She writes:
A few months ago, no American would have been foolish enough to do what I had just done: drive from Baghdad west through Iraq’s Anbar province, long the hotbed of the country’s Sunni Muslim insurgency, and into Jordan. The route was notorious for hijackings, kidnappings and roadside bombs, and passed some of the best-known symbols of the country’s mayhem: Abu Ghraib, Hamdaniyah, Fallujah, Ramadi and beyond.
But western Iraq has changed, and the drive last Sunday was proof of that.
In December, Editor & Publisher ran a profile of Fadel and her fellow bureau members. I found a story Fadel wrote for the Northeastern News in 2003 on how students viewed the war in Iraq. She was also a co-op student at the Boston Globe.
I don’t know Fadel, but former Globe reporter Raphael Lewis does. He e-mails:
She is an amazing woman who, at 26, serves as the Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy. Her work is quite excellent, and she was a standout student in Newswriting 1 and 2 when I taught as an adjunct at NU. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her.
What’s most encouraging about this is that Fadel shows it’s possible to succeed as a foreign correspondent at a young age. Even though the media landscape is changing, opportunities still exist.