“The Cardinal days seem like so long ago, but they really were the place we all became who we are.” - Anthony Shadid, e-mail to W.P. Norton on March 29, 2011
“Long ago” Anthony was the kind, funny editor in the white shirt, chain-smoking at his desk in The Daily Cardinal’s windowless, white offices as he called sources, talked politics and cracked jokes.
He had a wonderful smile, a wonderful laugh and the slightest Southern drawl.
Twenty years later, Cardinal colleagues used to battling each other for space in the paper reach a remarkable consensus on who he was: caring, passionate, loyal, genuine and, above all, driven.
“He walked in the door almost like he was a fully formed professional from day one,” recalls former managing editor Rob Gebeloff. “He was just totally, 100 percent driven by the job to do the best possible.”
Anthony’s first campus editor, Mark Pitsch, describes how the future two-time Pulitzer winner first arrived at the Cardinal office: all his belongings on his back, asking for a story before he looked for an apartment.
“He showed right away that he was a smart, aggressive journalist,” Pitsch recalls.
As Pitsch's campus desk successor, Anthony had a “beautiful touch” as an editor. “He’d bring out the best in you in every single story,” says former writer and campus editor Jean Christensen.
But, she adds, Anthony had a competitive streak.
Gebeloff describes one night when Anthony “just had a ton of stories” for the next day’s paper. Space was tight, but he kept pushing and somehow raised the question of whether Gebeloff could just cancel that night’s sports section.
“At first I thought it was a little not feasible,” Gebeloff recalls. “But he was very persistent and charming and funny. He kept just saying, ‘Set me up. You’ve gotta set me up.’”
Gebeloff eventually took Anthony’s side, only to be overridden by the editor in chief and sports editors. “But I’m pretty sure they found out how to give him more space.”
“He overdid everything,” fellow desk editor W.P. Norton confirms.
Outside the Cardinal, Anthony also made the dean’s list multiple times, strove for straight A’s and pushed himself to learn Arabic. Professors still keep copies of his papers.
“He worked nonstop,” former Cardinal reporter Christina Pretto says.
“He was devoted to the Cardinal, and he was devoted to his studies.”
But following Friday desk critiques, Anthony could be found alongside Pretto, Norton, Pitsch and others at The Black Bear Lounge, a dark, crowded, smoke-filled college bar where the jukebox played Neil Young and Cardinal staffers flew through pitchers of beer and packs of cigarettes.
“After we closed the paper, we were hyped up,” Pretto explains. “We wanted to talk and drink and smoke and debate political ideology.”
Colleagues recall Anthony partaking in the Cardinal’s then-politicized atmosphere, but the advocacy streak that commanded the editorial page never entered his articles.
“Journalism always came first,” says former city editor Sue Evans. “There was just never a question that that’s what his dream was. That’s what he wanted to do.”
Now that he is gone, knowing Anthony achieved his lifelong ambition brings some comfort to those who knew him.
“We were all dreaming,” says Evans. “To witness the dream and see it come true is just so incredible. At least he achieved that dream, and I think that gave us a lot of peace.”
Anthony Shadid was a celebrated international journalist. He passed away from an asthma attack this February while reporting in Syria.