Anthony Shadid, longtime Middle East correspondent for the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Boston Globe, died yesterday from an asthma attack while covering the unrest in Syria. He was one of the finest journalists in the world over the past two decades, providing bold, clear, and insightful reporting from many of the globe's most important events. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of the Iraq War, and he covered the Arab-Israeli conflicts from Lebanon, Israel, and the West Bank. Over the past year, he wrote riveting, heartbreaking stories on the Arab Spring from Egypt, Libya, and Syria.
Shadid risked his life to uncover the truth about injustice and suffering and to bear witness to it to the world. He was shot while walking down the street in the West Bank, hounded by Egyptian police, and kidnapped by Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Libya.
And Shadid was something else, too - he was a diehard Packer fan. As he wrote in the Journal Sentinel last year, he would go to ridiculous lengths overseas to follow the Pack, no matter where he was - racking up giant phone bills by listening to the radio broadcast, plopping down an extra few hundred dollars for hotels with satellite TV broadcasts of games, spending countless hours reading about the team online.
Shadid was a UW-Madison grad and became a fan in the early '90s as an AP reporter in Milwaukee. He got hooked at the beginning of the Brett Favre era, and finally made his Lambeau Field pilgrimage last December, when he saw the Packers beat the 49ers 34-16. Shadid said that throughout his 15 years as a foreign correspondent, "I feel like the Packers were there on every assignment, from Cairo to Islamabad."
I know the Packers connection is a trivial one, especially in light of the incredibly weighty matters to which Shadid dedicated his life. But it's humbling and heartening to know that one of the most honorable, courageous, passionate, and talented journalists of our generation was living and dying each week with the same team we were. The Packer Family - and, more importantly, the world - has lost a remarkable man. Godspeed, Anthony.