A Student’s Perspective: Social Media Week Ends with a Tribute to A Great Journalist

Hoda Emam is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism, and one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC. This is her account, both written and photographic, of “Challenging Conventional Wisdom of Social Media: Socmedia Editors Share Their Latest Ideas.”

In the same room that Anthony Shadid’s work was twice decided as worthy of a Pultizer Prize for International Reporting, Social Media Week attendees gathered to celebrate his life.

When news of his death broke out on February 16, the online community took to various social media platforms to mourn his loss. Anthony Shadid was even trending worldwide on Twitter.

At the Columbia School of Journalism Joseph Pulitzer World Room, guests of the event placed down their smart phones and laptops to stand for a moment of silence. Several of the attendees of Social Media Week approached the podium to express their thoughts.

Professor Ann Cooper, an internationally known journalist and executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists said, “It feels like I have lost a trusted guide to what has happened in the Middle East.”

In April 2011, Anthony Shadid and three of his NY Times colleagues were released from captivity in Libya. Their first public event after their return was at Columbia University. In response to why Shadid covers stories that takes him to dangerous parts of the world, Cooper read a comment that Shadid made during the discussion, “We are taking these risks because these stories wouldn’t be told otherwise.”

Shadid was also a great influence for many aspiring journalists including, Namo Abdullah, a graduate student from Kurdistan. Abdullah’s voice trembled as he reminisced Shadid’s support and inspiration over the two years of their friendship. “If there were no Anthony I wouldn’t have understood even my own country, as good as I do now.”

Liz Heron, the NY Times social media editor, had worked with Shadid and his wife Nada Bakri for a period of time. She took to the podium and commented on Shadid’s passing. “It also makes me realize that you know his brand of foreign correspondence is so vital today, even among all these new different models of foreign correspondence that we are coming up with now,” said Heron. “It’s really complimentary to the kind of social media correspondence that is coming up and it can’t be left behind.”

Shadid, 43, was known for his gifted eye for detail and his contextual writing. He leaves behind Columbia Graduate and NY Times reporter Nada Bakri and their two children.

Before moving into the final panel discussion for Social Media Week attendees were reminded of Shadid’s humble character. His twitter page was displayed showing his title as simply a “Journalist and Writer.” In a time when social media is understood to be a platform to display ones credits and experiences, Shadid’s profile is a model of selflessness.

Hoda Emam is currently an Master of Science candidate in Digital Media at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Hoda’s recent experience includes working with ABC News and the United Nations.