The New York Times reported Shadid’s death Thursday evening, writing that he apparently succumbed to a severe asthma attack. A Times photographer, Tyler Hicks, managed to carry Shadid’s body from Syria into Turkey.
Shadid’s death came just hours after the United Nations overwhelmingly voted for a resolution condemning the violent crackdown by the government of Syria. The Times said Shadid was in the country working to gather information on the opposition forces and that the Syrian government had not been informed of Shadid’s entry into the country.
Shadid did not shy away from danger, even after being shot in the shoulder in 2002 in Ramallah, while working for the Globe. He was also one of four New York Times reporters arrested in Libya last March.
Steve Fainaru, a former Post reporter who worked extensively with Shadid in Iraq, recalled him as “the best journalist I’d ever seen — without any question.”
“He was the best reporter, his attention to detail was amazing, he wrote poetry on deadline. He’s just completely unflappable. But all I can think of is him as a person. He was one of the kindest, most compassionate, most empathetic people I ever met. He’s such a great friend. And that’s what made him so great as a journalist—he was able to somehow find compassion and empathy in everything he touched and wrote about.”
Fainaru recalled being in Kirkuk in northern Iraq with Shadid, and asking the reporter if he thought it was safe to move around. “His response was, I don’t know. And then he was gone. He was off reporting ... He was not, in my mind, an adrenaline junkie. He took the risks grudgingly, because that’s where the story was.”
Shadid was married to New York Times reporter Nada Bakri, and had two children.
Shadid won two Pulitzers for coverage of Iraq while reporting for The Post. In 2010, for his second prize, the Pulitzer board wrote they awarded Shadid “for his rich, beautifully written series on Iraq as the United States departs and its people and leaders struggle to deal with the legacy of war and to shape the nation’s future.”
Read below the work submitted for Shadid’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize:
In 2004, the Pulitzer board cited Shadid for “his extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of Iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled and their way of life upended.”