By Shawn Donnan, FT World News Editor
The Middle East and its conflicts have generated plenty of great works of journalism. However, the reporting produced by Anthony Shadid, the New York Times correspondent who died on assignment in Syria on Thursday, was exceptional.
While many others have found a calling in grand analysis of the region’s geopolitics, his was in the often heartwrenching stories of its people.
For more than a decade, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner gave the Middle East’s citizens a compelling voice in a western media often more prone to stereotype and cliché.
I never met Shadid, but here at the FT we read him avidly, and I hope that some of what he taught us through his approach to the metier first at the Washington Post, and then at the New York Times, will live on. As a foreign editor sending young correspondents into the field I have more than once pointed them in the direction of his work and told them: “Read Shadid – that is how it is done.”
Here is some of the best of what he did:
- ‘The Sky Exploded’ and Arkan Daif, 14, Was Dead – Washington Post, March 2003. Part of a series that won Shadid the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting
- “The US military called it shock and awe, and it began on March 21, 2003 — 8:09 p.m., to be exact. It concluded here with a sigh.” – Letter from Iraq, December 2009
- “No One Values the Victims Anymore” – March 2009, part of the series that won Shadid his second Pulitzer prize, in 2010
- “The horror of this war is its numbers, frozen in the portraits at the morgue: an infant’s eyes sealed shut and a woman’s hair combed in blood and ash. ‘Files tossed on the shelves,’ a policeman called the dead, and that very anonymity lends itself to the war’s name here — al-ahdath, or the events.” – from Restoring Names to War’s Unknown Casualties, an August 2010 dispatch for the New York Times
- “Baghdad’s main railway station evokes a lost world” – published in the FT, April 2009
Elsewhere, tributes to a reporter’s reporter:
- Steve Coll blogs for The New Yorker: “Shadid was willing to sit still, away from the main story, and listen.”
- Shadid’s “genuine curiosity” overcame “the suspicions of refugees, ambassadors and warlords,” says Quil Lawrence
- The New York Times looks at highlights from Shadid’s video reporting from around the Middle East
- The NYT’s obituary - Anthony Shadid: 1968-2012