By: Alex Ashlock
One of the photos in the New York Times really tells you everything you need to know about Anthony Shadid, who died in Syria Thursday at the age of 43. The photo shows the Pulitzer Prize winner with Cairo residents before President Hosni Mubarak was ousted. It looks like he's bantering with them, engaged with them. And he was. He spoke their language.
That ability to communicate with the people of the Middle East he covered for nearly two decades is the characteristic that jumped out in our conversation Friday with Shadid's friend and colleague, fellow foreign correspondent Stephen Farrell. Farrell spoke to Here & Now's Robin Young from Jerusalem.
"What Anthony had was the courage to go to the hard places when you had to go there and that's rare. On top of that, when he got there he had the language, the cultural knowledge, the ability to empathize with people, to get down what people were thinking and feeling and what was really happening. When you do speak some Arabic and read some Arabic, different layers come in. You can read the graffiti on the walls, you can hear what people are saying in the crowd. I saw him do it. In Libya, we're driving around in the car and he's listening to the town mosques, the messages that are blaring out and calibrating whether the messages are ones of defiance or ones urging people to piety. There really was a sense of deep cultural, religious political context that he was putting the events of a war into."
Besides the personal loss to his friends and family, Farrell said Shadid's death will also ripple across the journalistic world.
"I think you would struggle to find anybody who would argue with the proposition that Anthony was the preeminent foreign correspondent of his generation, certainly in the Middle East. Two Pulitzers speak to that. He is just going to be irreplaceable," Farrell said.
- Stephen Farrell, New York Times foreign correspondent and Shadid's friend and colleague
This segment aired on February 17, 2012.