Two reporters whose deaths leave a void

Anthony Shadid, on top of bus with notebook,  reports from Egypt in February/New York Times

Two reporters who were among the finest working in our conflicted business died this week. Anthony Shadid and Jeffrey Zaslow were both relatively young men and journalism is much the poorer having lost them.

Jeffrey Zaslow, who died at age 53 after he lost control of his car on a snowy Michigan road a week ago, was a best selling author and a Wall Street Journal reporter of uncommon sight and sensitivity. He was also a husband, father and friend to many. His books included “The Girls from Ames,” the story of a 40-year friendship among 10 women, and “The Last Lecture,” about Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor who  was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live and whose famous last lecture, written about by Mr. Zaslow, was a sensation on the Internet.

Jeffrey Zaslow/New York Times

Last year, he collaborated with Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, on a memoir, “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope,” following the congresswoman’s shooting. He also wrote a book about airline pilot Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, who became a national hero after he landed a damaged jetliner in New York’s Hudson River.

Prior to his years at the Journal, Mr. Zaslow was a longtime human-interest columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, where his friend, Neil Steinberg, reflected on the shock of Mr. Zaslow’s loss this week. Here’s an excerpt:

” “This is the worst thing in the world,” I thought. “I hate this I hate this I hate this.” Silence has no utility, it isn’t a sharp enough blade to scrape at the icy loss that Jeff’s death frosts over the world. I wish I could wrap this up tidily, with an inspiring thought that counterbalances the tragedy in the world and leaves you with a smile. Jeff was so good at that. Alas, he is not here, a hard fact that touches on the often cruel nature of life, one that we lucky enough to have known Jeff will struggle with for a long time.””

Anthony Shadid‘s tragic death came in Syria as the longtime New York Times foreign correspondent, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was attempting to get out of the country into Turkey. Mr. Shadid, a Lebanese-American whose bravery took him into some of the most dangerous situations of any reporter working today,  died of an apparent asthma attack as he walked toward the Turkish border. He was 43 and also leaves behind his wife, and children.

His dispatches from the Middle East captured stories from Baghdad under “shock and awe” bombing to a Libya wracked by civil war and the fall of Ghadafi. Mr. Shadid was one of four journalists taken captive by the doomed regime last year before it fell. He was released after six days. He also suffered a gunshot wound in the West Bank in 2002 and reported from Egypt last February during the uprising that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.

He was in Syria reporting the uprising against the country’s President Bashar Assad.

“Anthony was one of our generation’s finest reporters,” New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said in a statement. “He was also an exceptionally kind and generous human being. He brought to his readers an up-close look at the globe’s many war-torn regions, often at great personal risk. We were fortunate to have Anthony as a colleague, and we mourn his death.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had this to say after President Obama learned of Mr. Shadid’s death: “All of us, the president on down, were greatly saddened by the news that Anthony Shadid had died while reporting (in) Syria. Anthony Shadid was one of the best, perhaps the finest, foreign correspondent working today, in my opinion.”

Following some of the links in this post will take you to some of the best work in journalism

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2 Responses to Two reporters whose deaths leave a void

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