NAAJA Mourns the death of Journalist Anthony Shadid

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NAAJA Mourns the death of Journalist Anthony Shadid
By Ray Hanania
NAAJA National Coordinator — Anthony Shadid was unlike many others. He loved the American Arab community and he also loved professional journalism. He began his journalism career at the Associated Press and though he was born in Oklahoma, he quickly learned Arabic as an adult. His heritage as an American Lebanese and his love for Arab culture drove him to journalism and to great heights.

Shadid went on to the Washington Post where he won two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing and then was hired by the New York Times where he covered Iraq and later worked as the bureau chief in Beirut.

He died Thursday in the Middle East reportedly of an asthma attack.

NAAJA expresses its deep condolences to his family. Anthony Shadid was a strong supporter of NAAJA and said he was proud to have his name among so many other great journalists who continue to strive to bring the voice of American Arabs to the world.

American Arab journalists suffer greatly in America.

They are ostracized by mainstream American journalism if they express their opinions too strongly. They are targeted by other American Arab media for their demand for true professionalism and honesty in reporting and for seeing the bias that exists against American Arabs in this country.

The Society of Professional Journalists has led this discrimination against American Arabs and many American Arab journalists have avoided association with the bigoted SPJ.

UNITY: Journalists of Color which supposedly advocates for the rights of minorities in journalism have also ostracized and excluded American Arab journalists because they do not want to share their power which is now divided among Black Journalists, Hispanic Journalists, Asian Journalists and Native American Journalists. They don’t want more minority groups sharing in what little they have as a group.

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And the American Arab community is divided, as we see in how the community is responding to the brutality of the Syrian Government of Bashar al-Assad against the people of Syria and the murder of more than 7,000 Syrian Civilians. American Arabs come from a region of the world where free speech is challenged and suppressed. They are taught to avoid controversy and not “air the dirty laundry” so discussions about the need for change in the community evoke anger, animosity and even threats.

In this difficult environment, no wonder there are so few American Arabs in journalism as noted in the recent Columbia Journalism Review column by Justin Martin. (Click to read.)

Many American Arabs have avoided the profession of journalism to avoid all of these pitfalls, from the bias in the mainstream American media to the anger that often is evoked from the American Arab community when journalists address issues they do not like or they disagree with.

Anthony Shadid managed to navigate all of that. He was only 43 when he died. So young and so talented. He managed to rise above the community and return to the Middle East where he provided professional insight as a role model not only for young American Arabs seeking to enter the difficult field of American journalism, but also to Arab World journalists, many of whom work to represent the politics of their sponsor nation rather than strive for the purity of objectiveness that journalism is dedicated and that many great journalists seek.

Anthony Shadid was a great journalist and the American Arab community is greatly distressed by this loss to the American Arab community and to professional journalism.

On behalf of NAAJA and its members

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com