W.P. Norton

Lynsey Addario’s moment

In W.P. Norton on October 13, 2014 at 8:11 am

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“I will cover another war,” says Lynsey Addario, pictured here on an AC360 segment that aired March 31, 2011. Image (c) W.P. Norton.

Without a doubt, this is photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s moment.

Addario has emerged as the most striking phenom to be watched among the four-star constellation of New York Times journos held by government forces in Libya March 16th through the 21st. She stood up to six days of terror in the hands of Libyan forces, along with reporters Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell, and fellow photog Tyler Hicks.

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Lynsey Addario, Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks, Stephen Farrell.

All four are accomplished professionals who’ve worked in harm’s way for years, and the Libya ordeal clearly put each of them to the test of a lifetime. You could see the shadow of fear in Tyler Hicks’ eyes, see the premature gray in his hair—he’s only 41—as he talked to Anderson Cooper during in the group’s first AC360 segment since being freed.

On that same segment, Shadid, who is around 43 and already packs two Pulitzers, came across as a man in no hurry to impress you; the very soul of humility. Even the beefy skinhead British-Irishman Stephen Farrell, veteran of three war-zone captivities, sat there hunched and somewhat subdued.

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The many faces of Stephen Farrell.

Most striking of the four, though, was Addario. She was the most intense, urgent, serious, and tough, even when describing the assaultive sexual groping she endured at the hands of their Libyan military captors.

Anthony Shadid is without peer as an interpreter of the Islamic world. I rely on his wisdom, revel in the poetry of his writing, and want him safe for years to come because he makes me smarter. Since the Libya nightmare, he’s been quoted as saying that he’ll be covering no more wars, and I plan to hold him to that.

Addario has been flatly insistent that she’ll go on covering combat zones, though, and I find myself strangely glad to hear it.

“I will cover another war,” she said March 30 in a Times blog. More power to her. She’s around the same age as the Hicks and Shadid, and could easily coast through the rest of her working career on her many laurels, which include her own Pulitzer work and a half-million-dollar MacArthur Genius Award.

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A double-shot of Addario with room for intensity, please.

If you haven’t seen it, you are definitely well-advised to get acquainted with Addario’s existing oeuvre. I’ll wager that her best work is ahead of her, though.

Her quiet urgency and sense of mission are two traits that stand in sharp contrast to Lara Logan, the star CBS reporter who lived through her own Mideast nightmare in Egypt earlier this year.

I make no secret of my pride at having worked at the Daily Cardinal with Shadid when we were students at UW-Madison in the late `80’s. Full disclosure, for years I envied his genius—until the tsunami revolutions of 2011 began to sweep across the Middle East this February. Now I depend on his stories to understand that part of the world.

And I simply cannot wait to see what Addario will come up with next.



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