The Washington Post, Beirut Bureau Chief, Lebanon
Shortly after graduating, I set out to become a journalist by traveling to Beirut, in 1982. I didn’t know what I was doing, only that I had wanted to be a journalist for as long as I could remember and I felt drawn to the complexity, drama and tragedy of Lebanon. My first job in journalism was with the Beirut Daily Star, and then after that I began freelancing, for the Chicago Tribune and the London Sunday Times, among others, covering the Lebanese civil war. In 1987 the Chicago Tribune offered me a job in Chicago, where I joined the newspaper at the very bottom of the ladder, working the night shift on the Metro Desk. In 1989 I was sent to Washington and in 1990, I covered the First Gulf War, heading to Baghdad and later Kuwait. In 1991 I was sent to Johannesburg to become the Africa correspondent. Over the next five years I covered some of the biggest and most heartbreaking stories of my career, including the famine in Somalia that prompted the dispatch of U.S. Marines and the genocide in Rwanda. I also covered the most uplifting story of my career, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela.
In 1996 I went to Beijing as the China correspondent, spent a brief time in London in 2000-01, then after the 9/11 attacks went to Pakistan and Afghanistan, embarking on coverage of what would become an endless series of wars, still not over yet.
The next three years were spent covering the war in Afghanistan, with a brief stint in Iraq for the US invasion in 2003. In 2004 I relocated to Rome which became a base for spending most of my time in Baghdad. In 2006, I moved to Beirut, having realized that of all the places I had lived in around the world, my favorite was the first one I had set out for 24 years before. I arrived just as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war broke out, but after that continued to spend most of my time in Iraq – still with the Chicago Tribune. In 2009 I joined the Los Angeles Times Baghdad bureau and in 2010 I became Baghdad Bureau Chief for the Washington Post. With the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011, I was sent to Egypt, then Libya, and then as the revolt in Syria accelerated, I began covering Syria full time. In the past couple of years I have broadened my beat somewhat to include other parts of the region, but I maintain a focus on Syria and continue to visit Iraq regularly.
Courage in Journalism Awards Awardee, 2019