By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Anthony Shadid, 1968-2012

Anthony Shadid in 2007

The death of Anthony Shadid is a terrible loss for journalism, for our understanding of the Middle East and for his family and friends. Like many people in the journalism community, I was shocked when word of Shadid’s passing hit Twitter last night.

Shadid had survived several close calls — getting shot in Ramallah, on the West Bank, when he was working for the Boston Globe in 2002, and being held by the Qaddafi regime in Libya with three other New York Times journalists earlier this year. It was supremely ironic that a 43-year-old would die of natural causes while covering the Syrian uprising, one of the most dangerous situations in the world.

I did not know Shadid, but I wrote about him twice when I was at the Boston Phoenix. This is strictly sidebar material, but it may be of interest.

The first time was in April 2002, when Globe editor Marty Baron flew to Israel to visit Shadid after after he was accidentally shot in the shoulder by an Israeli soldier while reporting in Ramallah. I was not able to talk with either Shadid or Baron, but I did speak with the Globe’s then-foreign editor, Jim Smith. “He thought it was important to be with Anthony,” Smith said. He added that Shadid, whose injuries were not life-threatening, was “extraordinarily lucky, if you can be shot and be said to be lucky.”

Two years later, I interviewed Shadid by email as part of a long story I wrote on the state of the Globe and the Boston Herald. Shadid had left the Globe for the Washington Post, and Ellen Barry (a former colleague of mine at the Phoenix) had left for the Los Angeles Times. (Both would end up at the New York Times.) Shadid, who was in Amsterdam en route to Bagdhad, said this about Baron:

In those days in the hospital, he acted as a colleague and a friend, and I appreciated it. As for leaving, the Globe made a real effort to keep me, one that came very close to being persuasive.

If you follow Baron on Twitter, you know how upset he was at Shadid’s death last night.

There are many accounts of Shadid’s life and work online already, but I want to call your attention to one written by Glen Johnson of the Globe. It turns out that he and Shadid were working in the Globe’s Washington bureau during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“This is the biggest story of our lives,” Johnson recalls Shadid telling him, and adds: “It was, especially for him.”

Photo (cc) by Terissa Schor and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. Ryan Walpole

    Without question, the most talented reporter and gifted writer covering the Middle East in recent years. Terrible loss for journalism indeed. You don’t see this quality of writing too often:

  2. Dan Atkinson

    Besides being a great journalist and writer, he was the kind of person who would take the time to call back a kid in college who decided to call him up out of the blue for a paper on the dangers of wartime reporting. A huge loss.

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