For those whom I did not have time to inform personally – things have been rather hectic – I soon start a new career as an Asia-based entrepreneur in new media.
After 12 years and more than a thousand datelines in the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times from dozens of countries on five continents at the cost of six laptops and despite one consistently dysfunctional email system, Friday was my last day at the newspaper.
The death and human suffering I witnessed in the war zones of northern Sri Lanka, southern Sudan and eastern Burma remain seared in my memory, along with the accordion-like collapse of fully occupied buildings during Taiwan’s largest earthquake and that disconcerting wobble of the Holiday Inn Express in Gulf Shores, Alabama as the eye of Hurricane Ivan passed overhead.
I live by the belief that witnessing and reporting improves the world. Good copy saves lives.
That said, I also treasured such hardship assignments as the Cannes Film Festival party column and always loved those urgent emails from the travel editor requesting me to go write about the best vacation spots I could find in Asia.
To the editors who sent me around the world, made my copy seem smart and captured the essence of my stories in so many pithy headlines, thanks. A few of them are in this video tour of the IHT newsroom.
A special thanks to my colleagues on the business side of the newspaper for making all that money in order for me to go spend it. Cheers, guys!
To those still in the back of the bus – my fellow reporters and photographers – keep the faith, humor and good luck with those editors. From the bomb-strewn Plain of Jars in Laos to the Republican National Convention in Manhattan, the stories are too numerous. (But I must say that hijacking that Kerry campaign pick-up truck across a state line was worthwhile, even if the bar we wanted – The Purple Grackle – was closed.)
Not all of us emerged unscathed, however, and some of remain in peril. A horrific number of reporters have been killed, injured and kidnapped in recent years. I think now particularly of Alan Johnston the reporter for the BBC who was kidnapped in Gaza more than 100 days ago.
Another daily contributor to our newspaper deserves my final and highest thanks: Local fixers and courageous sources.
Often motivated by the simple urge to show the truth to the world, they act in spite of government and other pressures.
Newspaper correspondents like myself travel with the safety of a foreign passport and backing of a high profile publication, but the fixers we hire do so at great risk to themselves and their families.
They place themselves in harm’s way by sharing information, arranging interviews and explaining complexities crucial to telling a story. Their lives can quickly become the collateral damage of journalism.
Thank you for taking those risks and thank you for all the stories. I hope I did them justice.
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