This past weekend returned us to one of the big media stories of the winter. Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid died of an apparent asthma attack while attempting to leave Syria following a dangerous reporting mission. Ed Shadid, a cousin of Anthony’s, said in a speech to the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee that a fight with his editors preceded Anthony Shadid’s fateful Syria trip.
According to Politico, Ed Shadid said that Anthony Shadid told his wife, Nada Bakri, that if he died in Syria, the New York Times would carry the blame.
Bakri isn’t talking, except for this statement on Twitter:
I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony’s passing. It does nothing but sadden Anthony’s children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father’s death.
Though the New York Times has taken issue with Ed Shadid’s version of events, it’s unlikely ever to detail discussions leading up to the Syria mission, meaning that a full and authoritative account may never materialize. A recent story in the Los Angeles Times cites Tyler Hicks, a photographer who accompanied Shadid on the Syria trip, as saying that it was Shadid who pressured his superiors to let him make the trip.
If what Ed Shadid is alleging had been a pattern of editorial conduct at the New York Times, however, we would likely have heard some voices speaking up — perhaps anonymously — in stories following Anthony Shadid’s death. But there’s been little or no such chatter.
Photojournalist Michael Kamber, a former contract photographer for the New York Times who knew Anthony Shadid, had this to say on the topic:
This doesn’t sound at all like my experience with the NYT or with Anthony. It’s totally implausible that NYT editors would try to force any reporter, especially one of Anthony’s stature, into a warzone. I’ve covered about a dozen conflicts for the paper and they’ve never urged me to go to a single one. In fact, my editors usually bent over backwards to make sure that I wanted to go into combat zones. And I knew Anthony pretty well, he was absolutely passionate about covering the Arab Spring.