Anthony Shadid, 43, was on assignment for the New York Times in eastern Syria on Thursday when he died of an apparent asthma attack. Shadid was a correspondent for both the Times and previously the Washington Post, devoting most of his newspaper coverage to conflict in the Middle East. Shadid won Pulitzer Prizes for his international reporting in Iraq in 2004 and 2010. In addition, he wrote three books concerning politics and unrest in the Middle East, one of which will be published next month. Shadid was also among the four Times reporters held captive and tortured in Libya in 2011.
The exact circumstances of Shadid’s death are not yet known (or haven’t been disclosed).
Times executive director Jill Abramson’s memo reads in part:
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. He has spent much of his storied career chronicling the Mideast; his empathy for its citizens’ struggles and his deep understanding of their culture and history set his writing apart. He was their poet and their champion. His work will stand as a testament.
Update: Shadid’s home paper has more details on his death from photographer Tyler Hicks, who was traveling with the fallen reporter. After having minor breathing difficulties caused by his asthma, Shadid was struck with a fatal attack.
“I stood next to him and asked if he was O.K., and then he collapsed,” Hicks said. “He was not conscious and his breathing was very faint and very shallow.” After a few minutes, he told the Times, “I could see he was no longer breathing.”
Hicks said that attempted CPR on Shadid for 30 minutes but was unable to revive him.
Many of Shadid’s fellow journalists took to Twitter to express their grief at Shadid’s death and respect for his work. “Can’t remember how many times we sat around saying, “That would be a great story for Anthony Shadid to write, or someone like him,” wrote Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy. “But there was never anyone like him.” Time’s Amy Sullivan added, “There are great reporters and there are great writers. And then there are the rare few who inspire awe by being both.” And CNN’s corresponded Ivan Watson saw Shadid just before his death.”Hugged Anthony last nite. He was excited to go to Turkey & write his stories. Heroic reporter, writer. Monumental loss.”
Shadid leaves behind a wife and two children.