Anthony Shadid

AP’s CIA/Iran story wins Anthony Shadid Award

Associated Press

The Associated Press announced Tuesday that two former reporters and an editor won the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics for the December story about an American missing in Iran.

Reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, and editor Ted Bridis, won for their report in December on the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing while working in Iran in 2007.

The award was announced Tuesday by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics. It is named for Anthony Shadid, a graduate and former Associated Press reporter who died in 2012 while reporting in Syria for The New York Times.

According to the AP, reporters first linked Levinson to the CIA in 2010, but held off on publishing the story “because the U.S. government said it was pursuing promising leads to bring Levinson home.”

From Goldman and Apuzzo’s original story, “The CIA paid Robert Levinson’s family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined.”

The U.S. publicly has described Levinson as a private citizen.

“Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran,” the White House said last month.

That was just a cover story. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world’s darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian regime for the U.S. government.

Apuzzo now works for The New York Times and Goldman works for The Washington Post.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included one reference to the FBI instead of the CIA. Read more

Anthony Shadid

Anthony Shadid a finalist for National Book Awards

National Book Awards | The Associated Press
Anthony Shadid is a finalist in this year’s National Book Awards’ nonfiction category. The New York Times reporter’s memoir “House of Stone” was published shortly after his death from an asthma attack in Syria this February.

The book is a memoir of Shadid’s restoration of his family’s ancestral home in Lebanon. Shadid’s father said in an interview after the book was published he was “so overcome with emotion when he looks at his son’s words that he can read only a few pages at once.”

New Yorker writer Katharine Boo and Washington Post reporter Anne Applebaum are also among the nonfiction finalists.

The winners will be announced Nov. 14.

Related: Anthony Shadid was our Ernie Pyle | Are foreign correspondents like Shadid a vanishing breed? Read more


Keller: Shadid ‘expressed a determination to go’ to Syria

Los Angeles Times | The Washington Post
Ed Shadid doesn’t know the name of the person who allegedly overheard his cousin, deceased New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, argue with editors about returning to Syria. And so far he’s the only member of Anthony Shadid’s family who publicly blames The New York Times for the reporter’s death. It doesn’t look like he’s getting company anytime soon.

The Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce tries to track down other family members closer to the information.

  • The unnamed sister-in-law who supposedly overheard the phone argument didn’t return an email from the Times.
  • Anthony’s brother David: “I am sorry, I am not going to comment on this story in any way”
  • Anthony’s widow Nada Bakri didn’t return a phone call, but she did tweet a statement that says she does “not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing.”

Moreover, Tyler Hicks, who accompanied Shadid on his last story, told Pearce “We both campaigned very hard to go on this assignment.” Read more

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Anthony Shadid’s widow won’t say whether New York Times to blame for his death

Politico | Gawker
A cousin of the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid is claiming that Shadid was unhappy with the arrangements for his trip to Syria, and that Shadid told his wife that if he died on the trip, it would be the Times’ fault. Politico’s Dylan Byers initially reported what Ed Shadid said in a speech Saturday night to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Gawker’s John Cook got more details in an interview. The video of the speech has also been posted online.

According to Ed Shadid, a security advisor for the Times “forbade” Shadid from entering Syria in December because it was too dangerous. A few months later, after CNN had gained access to a rebel stronghold, Shadid’s editors told him to go, Ed Shadid said. The night before he was to leave, “the plans started to fall apart,” and he got into an argument with his editors, according to his cousin. Read more

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This portrait

Student portrait of Anthony Shadid catches widow’s eye on Twitter

Ebony Marshman was so inspired by Anthony Shadid’s work that she painted a portrait of him that was soon discovered by his widow, who requested a copy from the artist. Instead, Marshman will give Nada Bakri the original.

Marshman mixed several photographs of Shadid to create a painting that is on display until the end of the month at Western Kentucky University, where she is a student. “Portrait of a Man with Kind Eyes” got its name from the warmth Marshman saw when The New York Times correspondent was interviewed after being freed from Libya a year ago, where he was held captive with three other journalists. He died in Syria last month while on assignment for The New York Times. Read more


Buddy Shadid on son Anthony’s memoir: ‘When he wrote, it was like poetry’

Buddy Shadid is trying to get through the book, but is so overcome with emotion when he looks at his son’s words that he can read only a few pages at once.

They talked about the book often. “He wanted to please me and he would frame it in a way I would like,” he said.

“Every time I read a line, it brings back a memory.”

Juliana Keeping in The Oklahoman


Are foreign correspondents like Colvin and Shadid a vanishing breed?

Overnight, there were reports of the deaths of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in Homs, Syria. The correspondents were reporting in extremely hostile territory: “It’s too much of a coincidence,” the New York Times reported a Syrian activist in Cairo saying. “There are reports of planes flying around and they may be looking for the satellite uplinks.”

As foreign bureaus get rarer, people intent on covering conflicts now often have to lean on the crowd rather than the soft bosom of a wealthy journalistic institution. Read more

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New York Times publishes final story by Anthony Shadid

Capital New York | Women’s Wear Daily | New York Times
Anthony Shadid’s final story for The New York Times has been published. With a Tunis dateline, here’s how the story begins:

The epiphany of Said Ferjani came after his poor childhood in a pious town in Tunisia, after a religious renaissance a generation ago awakened his intellect, after he plotted a coup and a torturer broke his back, and after he fled to Britain to join other Islamists seeking asylum on a passport he had borrowed from a friend.

Twenty-two years later, when Mr. Ferjani returned home, he understood the task at hand: building a democracy, led by Islamists, that would be a model for the Arab world.

“This is our test,” he said.

After a newsroom meeting Friday afternoon to mourn the foreign correspondent who died unexpectedly Thursday in Syria, executive editor Jill Abramson headed to Beirut, according to Joe Pompeo. Shadid lived in Beirut, where his wife is also a reporter for the Times. Read more


How the Times put together Shadid’s obituary

The New York Times
Anthony Shadid’s obituary in The New York Times is a marvel of the form, a remarkably complete sketch of Shadid’s very full life, his career moves, even his writing style in just 843 words. You can’t help but admire the economy of this Margalit Fox paragraph:

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.

There’s institutional pride, a 13-word encapsulation of Shadid’s professional mien, and an astute analysis of how he made all that work in that pair of sentences.

Perhaps more surprising, the piece was written and edited in an hour and a half, by a newsroom in mourning.

Bill McDonald, the Times’ obituaries editor, says his desk had nothing ready on Shadid, even though he’d been captured by forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya last year. “The Libya incident was over before we got to that point,” McDonald says. “This was a complete surprise and a complete shock, and we had to mobilize very quickly.” Read more


Anthony Shadid was our Ernie Pyle

Anthony Shadid, dead at the age of 43, was our Ernie Pyle, a war correspondent who combined physical and moral courage with the eyes and ears of a great storyteller.

Pyle died at the age of 44 from machine gun fire near Okinawa at the end of World War II. Shadid died Thursday from an apparent asthma attack, brought on by his guides’ horses, as they were trying to get him closer to the war zone in Syria.

The greatest journalism comes at the intersection of craft and opportunity, being at the right place at the right time, reporting tools in hand. Pyle and Shadid shared something more, the guts to gain access at whatever cost.

For Pyle that access came from embedding with the troops across Europe and then into Asia with the mission of recording, not the sometimes hollow aspirations of generals, but the daily experiences — the lives and deaths — of common soldiers.

Pyle covered a war in which most journalists were loyal propagandists. He wrote using the pronouns “I” and “we.” He wore the uniform, typed stories on a noiseless portable in the trenches,  took a bullet for the cause, and became one of the few civilians to win a Purple Heart.

Shadid covered different wars than Pyle’s and always preferred working outside the control of official sources, as a “unilateral.” He, too, once took a bullet for his efforts on the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah, and often faced arrest and physical threats from all directions. His Lebanese-American ethnicity, a well-groomed beard, and a fluency in Arabic were the only armor he wore.

Because Pyle wrote from the war front to the home front, he became one of the most celebrated journalists of the 20th Century, a “buddy” to the common soldier and a household name. In spite of the award-winning journalism produced by Shadid for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and The New York Times, he was no celebrity, except perhaps to his loyal readers and to all the other journalists who admired him.

News media haters have ignored or dismissed the dangers to life and limb for reporters around the world who have tried to shine a light — especially in the Middle East — on the true consequences of war. From the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the number of imprisoned, wounded, and dead journalists keeps growing.

When you put aside the differences between Pyle and Shadid, what remains was their ability to offer eyewitness testimony about war, especially that need to look death in the face, and to force us to look.

One of Pyle’s most honored stories was “The Death of Captain Henry Waskow,” written on January 10, 1944, for Scripps Howard newspapers.  It begins:

“In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed the trail of any man as beloved as Captain Henry T. Waskow, of Belton, Texas.”

He continues:

“I was at the foot of a mule trail the night they brought Captain Waskow down. The moon was nearly full, and you could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley below.

“Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed onto the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden pack saddles, their heads hanging down on one side, their stiffened legs sticking out awkwardly from the other, bobbing up and down as the mules walked.”

One of the bodies turns out to be that of Capt. Waskow.

“Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally, there were five lying end to end in a long row. You don’t cover up dead men in the combat zones. They just lie there in the shadows until someone comes after them.

“The unburdened mules moved off to their olive grove. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually I could sense them moving, one by one, close to Captain Waskow’s body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.”

What follows is a quiet litany of grief, as soldiers visit the body.

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently in the dead face. And he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.”

Compare the narrative of that field-of-battle wake with Shadid’s story from Iraq, “A Boy Who Was ‘Like a Flower’,” published in the Post on March 31, 2003:

“On a cold, concrete slab, a mosque caretaker washed the body of 14-year-old Arkan Daif for the last time.

“With a cotton swab dipped in water, he ran his hand across Daif’s olive corpse, dead for three hours but still glowing with life. He blotted the rose-red shrapnel wounds on the soft skin of Daif’s right arm and right ankle with the poise of practice. Then he scrubbed his face scabbed with blood, left by a cavity torn in the back of Daif’s skull.

“The men in the Imam Ali mosque stood somberly waiting to bury a boy who, in the words of his father, was ‘like a flower.’ Haider Kathim, the caretaker, asked: ‘What’s the sin of the children? What have they done?’

“In the ritual of burial, the men and their families tried, futilely, to escape the questions that have enveloped so many lives here in fear and uncertainty. Beyond some neighbors, family, and a visitor, there were no witnesses; the funeral went unnoticed by a government that has eagerly escorted journalists to other wartime tragedies.  Instead, Daif and two cousins were buried in the solitude of a dirt-poor, Shiite Muslim neighborhood near the city limits.”

One sees in the work of both writers reporting in its purest form, the story of an eyewitness who brings the troubling truth into the light of day with language that is like a camera.

There are two forms of bravery at work here, both of them equally powerful within the contexts of the wars these men covered. Pyle’s story of the dead captain might look heroic from our vantage point, but the stories of good dead men could be seen as hurting morale and undercutting the war effort. Shadid’s story lets Americans know that the conduct of even a just war results in the deaths of children and the agonies of whole families and societies.

On more than one occasion, I have held up for inspection a column written by Michelle Malkin a month after 9/11. It is a cruel commentary, rendered from the starkest forms of ideological cynicism.

“There will be no 21st century Ernie Pyles in our wars on terrorism,” she wrote, “because modern journalists wouldn’t be caught dead in a foxhole, wearing a military uniform, bravely recording and communicating the hopes, fears, dreams, anger and pride of the American soldier.”

Revisiting that piece, I feel more strongly than ever that Malkin got Ernie Pyle wrong, and got the courage of foreign correspondents the world over wrong, and will probably get Anthony Shadid wrong if she feels moved to write about him.

The next Ernie Pyle did come our way. His name was Anthony Shadid. Read more

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