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."

Erik Wemple at The Washington Post dug up a four-month-old interview with Bakri in which she said she's "I'm a little mad at journalism." "She doesn’t elaborate on the remark too much," Wemple writes.

But Ed Shadid's story does raise an important question, Pearce writes:

“You’ve got these young journalists who are seeing all this praise that’s being heaped on Anthony,” [Ed Shadid] told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re thinking that ‘if I’m gonna be the next Anthony Shadid, I gotta take all these risks.’ ”

Shadid's physical courage was widely touted in appreciations. His obituary in The Times said his work "entailed great peril":

In 2002, as a correspondent for The Globe, he was shot in the shoulder while reporting in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Last March, Mr. Shadid and three other Times journalists — Lynsey Addario, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks — were kidnapped in Libya by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces. They were held for six days and beaten before being released.

Ed Shadid cited former Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's appreciation of Anthony Shadid, which said the reporter went "often reluctantly" into dangerous spots, as evidence of the company glorifying bravado. In an email to Poynter's Steve Myers, Keller says Anthony Shadid's first trip to Syria, at least, was his idea:

The first time Anthony proposed a surreptitious trip into Syria after the unrest began I told the Foreign Desk I wanted to hear his plan directly. We talked by phone at length. He outlined his plans and precautions in detail, expressed a determination to go, and convinced me that he had minimized the risk. He expressed no reluctance whatsoever. I asked if Nada shared his confidence and he assured me she did. (That trip got scratched when one of his contacts called him off.) When I said he went "reluctantly" I was referring to his reluctance to cause his family worry.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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