Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Blog

Anthony Shadid inspired a generation of Arab American Journalists–journalists who are now some of the most influential and well-respected reporters covering the Arab world. With his tragic passing in Syria last week, many of the friends and fellow journalists touched by Shadid’s life and work paid tribute to his memory by sharing his contributions to both their professional and personal growth. The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) last week posted an article with first-hand accounts from several prominent Arab American Journalists hailing Shadid’s work. They called him the Arab American community’s media pioneer. “He shattered the stereotypical images of Arabs,” they wrote. “He told his stories through Arab voices, not just urbane diplomats and politicians, but ordinary families from Baghdad to Benghazi.” But to Arab American journalists, Shadid was more than a professional inspiration. He actively sought out a place for reporters of Arab descent to be part of media narrative. He actively encouraged young aspiring journalists to apply for jobs. Leila Fadel, The Washington Post’s Cairo Bureau Chief remembers his willingness to give advice:

One year, when I had been rejected from every newspaper internship I had applied for, I called him, dejected. He told me several intern programs had turned him down. He saved every rejection letter and looked back at them with satisfaction. They had been wrong about him.

That was Anthony, he always had time to offer advice, put in a good word for you, give you a pep talk between writing books, magazine pieces, daily articles and taking risks to see and tell the story. He was a terrific advocate for young journalists who looked up to him and sought to emulate his work, but never could.

Shadid is a huge loss to the Arab American community, to those he mentored and to the two regions he tried to connect through real personal stories. His legacy, however, will continue to endure, embodied by those whom he taught, helped, and inspired to give a voice to the people of the Arab world.  

AMEJA’s website has a number of first-hand accounts by reporters like Egyptian American journalist and author Ashraf Khalil, Ayman Mohyeldin from NBC News and The Washington Post’s Leila Fadel. Their stories and praises of Anthony Shadid shed light on his influence as a journalist and his quality as a person. An excerpt appears below:

"CAIRO: The byline was there in black and white, on front-page stories and in Pulitzer Prize citations: Anthony Shadid.

It was important for us to see it. That name was a source of immeasurable pride for an entire generation of Arab-American journalists who found in Anthony a mentor, inspiration and friend.

With his rich prose and focus on the Middle East’s most vulnerable, he showed us how our language skills and intimate familiarity of the region could lend nuance or surprise to stories that for decades had followed a single, stale narrative."

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