Getting the Story Right - Anthony Shadid on Scholarship and Journalism of the Middle East.
On the sad occasion of Anthony Shadid’s death yesterday in Syria, we at New York University felt compelled to release an unedited version of a program we organized featuring his expertise. On December 8, 2010, Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, with Professor Jillian Schwedler of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst participated in a taped conversation about their respective crafts of journalism and scholarship, how they do or perhaps should overlap, and how both professions might arrive at a more contextualized understanding of the Middle East. Much of their discussion revolves around the complexity of ethno-sectarian identity in the region, how to follow the politics of protest, and perhaps most appropriately, how to best write stories about ordinary people struggling with daily life in the Arab world.
The conversation highlights Shadid’s confidence and expertise, but it also shows the humility he was best known for. When asked by Schwedler about the difference between writing as a daily journalist and his writing of books, he responds:
“The Iraq book was great because all the mistakes I make as a daily journalist, I got to go back and fix them. It was great… …I was actually able to go back and tell the story the way it should be told. And in this book I’m working on now about Lebanon, it is about identity. It is about this kind of lost Middle East… …I do fear that writing for 15 years in the Middle East as a journalist, I still may have missed the biggest story, which is this changing sense of identity. This book is a chance to at least try to do it the way I want to do it. Who knows how it’ll turn out?”
The book he is referring to will be released soon, and we expect that in this latest account, we will find more of what we all respected and admired in Anthony--his expert threading of human stories into a complex historical and political landscape.
It is significant to note that participation in such a program at a university was not unusual for Shadid. Indeed, we post this conversation as testimony to his graciousness in sharing his knowledge with students and to the ongoing exchange with scholars that informed his exemplary reporting. He will be sorely missed.
-The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies
-The Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
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