Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – people call me a journalist, and I demur. I demur in part because I have no official training to that end. I also demur because the term is thrown about loosely. And I demur because honesty compels me to declare that as much as I cherish my self-employment (and in fact, it is a happy addiction) I can’t rightly claim any higher calling. I am trying to tell stories and pay for chicken feed and I am grateful every day that I am allowed to do so.
Anthony Shadid, on the other hand, is a journalist. An Oklahoma boy and father who removes himself from the safety of his home to go to the heart of human trouble and do his best to speak for those we would call blue-collar, working-class people trying to survive unthinkable situations. I don’t know Anthony well…we spoke at the same event once and had the opportunity for a longer quiet conversation in the afternoon before going our separate ways. I am aware of certain ambivalence regarding the role of journalists in war zones. These things are not always clear-cut. But this I firmly believe: if hell ever shows up at my doorstep, I hope there will be journalists on the order of Anthony Shadid who will – at risk beyond any amount of compensation and far removed from the swivel chairs and golden microphones of the studios – do their best to set the story free.