17 February 2012
Remembering Anthony Shadid
I wanted to take a moment today to remember Anthony Shadid, who died yesterday while reporting in Syria. I always told people Anthony Shadid was my idol, and I absolutely meant it. For the better part of the past ten years I, like many people, have sought out his byline in the Post or the Times. I remember always being disappointed when I opened the paper to find that, after Shadid had written a series of articles on Cairo or Syria or Baghdad, that another reporter had taken over the beat, Shadid was already off digging for next story. No one could capture the personal stories, the nuance of religion, sect, tribe, the mix of history and modernity that is the Middle East.
Shadid had a unique ability to tell the stories of daily Arab life with dignity and accuracy, so seldom found in Western media. More than anything, Shadid's adherence to old-school style journalism, to the story above all else, to real reporting, struck a particular chord with me. Someone remarked that it is so tragic because he was so young. No, I said, it is tragic because he represented to so many of us a better version of what the world could be.
Everyone I know working in Middle Eastern studies or journalism has remarked on how strongly they feel his loss. There is something about the power of his writing that makes his loss feel so personal to anyone who knew his work.
Tunisia's Islamists Test Ideas Decades in the Making
In Assad's Syria, There is No Imagination (anyone who cites Lisa Wedeen in an article is a rockstar)
Baghdad College and America's Shifting Role in Iraq