Anthony Shadid, plagued much of his life by asthma, fell to a fatal asthma attack Feb 16 while on dangerous assignment in Syria. This acclaimed New York Times correspondent, who had previously worked at The Associated Press and The Boston Globe, had garnered many journalistic awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2004 for his dispatches from U.S-invaded Iraq. Many of his colleagues in the news media considered him one of the most elegant deadline news writers of his profession.
For the Syrian story, Shadid had been on secret assignment. The vile government of Bashar al-Assad had not been informed by The New York Times of his smuggled entry into civil-war torn Syria, and so immediately after the fatal asthma attack a Times colleague with him was somehow able to transport his dead body across the border to Turkey without Syrian detection. In a message to Times staffers, Jill Abramson, the paper’s top editor, later said: “Anthony died as he lived — determined to bear witness to the transformation sweeping the Middle East and to testify to the suffering of people caught between government oppression and opposition forces.”
The staff of ASIA MEDIA joins in the worldwide expressions of grief, and we add only this note: That for all the oft-justified criticisms of the American news media, the individual bravery and collective commitment of its foreign correspondents can never be doubted. Though their absolute numbers may be dwindling as the classical “old media” loses ground to the problematic but powerful “new media,” the invaluable contribution of those brave foreign correspondents who risk their lives to bring us the truth about what is happening in the most dangerous and troubled parts of the world must be honored and respected. Just imagine how ignorant we would be without them.