Colvin showed enthusiasm for overseas coverage early, editor recalls
Marie Colvin, shown here in a handout photo from British newspaper the Sunday Times, was killed in Syria on Wednesday.
February 22nd, 2012
09:09 PM ET

Colvin showed enthusiasm for overseas coverage early, editor recalls

Editor's note: In this piece, CNN Senior Executive Producer Paul Varian looks back on the career of longtime reporter Marie Colvin, who was one of two Western journalists killed Wednesday while covering an uprising in Syria. Varian and Colvin were colleagues at United Press International before Colvin joined London's The Sunday Times.

After a week plus of the intense coverage afforded the nation’s latest tragic celebrity death, it’s a poignant time for those of us in the news media to pay homage to three of our own, lost in the killing zones of Syria.

The legacy left by Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times of London and French photographer Remi Ochlik is one of unyielding dedication to getting the story - illustrated and in up-close detail - and getting it out to the rest of the world.

I first met Colvin when she was a pup, covering the New Jersey statehouse for United Press International, wholeheartedly in love with the news, eager to grow as a journalist and excited about her prospects for the future.

She soon moved to New York City, the police beat and the kinds of human interest stories unique to New York, but her ambition was more worldly.

She wanted to be a foreign correspondent and, as UPI's foreign editor, I helped her make the first step toward achieving that goal - a slot on the international desk when UPI shifted its world headquarters to Washington in 1983.

A bit on the Bohemian side even then, she took up residence on a houseboat in the Potomac and settled in for a stint on the graveyard shift where her closest brush with danger each night was her 3 a.m. run to an all-night next door coffee shop whose patrons included strippers, street hookers, their pimps and other unsavory sorts who populated what was then D.C.'s most notorious red light district.

She thrived on coffee, and that was the only place you could get it.

Within a matter of months, she was on her way to Paris - a plum assignment for a fledgling correspondent. A year later, like so many of the talented people UPI sent overseas on meager salaries, she was lured away by a big-time newspaper, in her case The Sunday Times of London, and the world’s hotspots became her beat.

She covered wars and conflicts of all stripes from Chechnya and the Balkans to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The last time I can recall talking with her was after she lost an eye to shrapnel on the front lines of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2001. In our conversation, she treated it like just another day at the office. She was more interested in talking about the Sri Lankan story.

"She was in love with the news," said longtime CNN anchor and correspondent Jim Clancy, who worked with her in Iraq, Beirut, the West Bank and Libya well before the demise of Moammar Gadhafi.

"That was her whole life. Nothing else mattered as much."

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    Its sad. These journalists brave tremendous odds and put their lives online. In the recent past we have seen a number of them lose their lives. I salute their courage and dedication to their profession.
    My prayers go out to their families.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    Such a sad state of affairs when the only people willing to lay their lives on the line to help these people in Syria are journalists! God bless this woman and her family and friends! The world was a better place with her in it! God bless!

    February 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • high hopes

      Well said, Chrissy!

      Never give up.


      February 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    Amen @ saywhat! I thought of you and hope when i posted previously.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    @ chrissy
    thanks. You said it.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Hmm i think we BOTH said it! And still, nothing is being done! Makes ya sick!

    February 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. leeintulsa

    sounds like they died doing what they loved. we should all be so lucky..

    February 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill

    They walked Into a death trap. It's there fault for sticking themselves into other countries affairs. Let Syria deal with there own problems. No need to report it worldwide.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      it does say, 'no foreign journalists' on the gate..

      February 22, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bingo hall lady

      i'm thinking urban many repos die within the last 12 months?

      February 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    Yea ok bill, that only works for ostriches! Eventually the scum of the earth ends up in your front yard! Obviously you didnt learn a dang thing from 9/ll did ya?

    February 22, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chrissy

    Yea ok bill, that only works for ostriches! Eventually the crap of the earth ends up in your front yard! Obviously you didnt learn a damn thing from 9/ll did ya?

    February 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |

    This is very very Sad !

    February 23, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Expat

    Bill sounds to me like someone who'd pass by a hurt child on the street without offering help Why are we standing by and watching this and doing nothing? The European nations, the U.S. and Canada, the Arab League, as well as Russia and China should demand and end to this tyranny and set iron clad consequences if nothing verifiable is done. I'm sickened by the world's apathy.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    @ expat, damn good question. Just waitin for the situation to solve itself i guess!

    February 23, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • â™”Mmmmm♕

      not hardly, happened in ww2...really it's sleeping with the enemy until itdramatically effects you...

      February 23, 2012 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |

    Colvin died protecting her coffers. There was no chance that lady pirate was going to let anyone steal her treasure. YARGH!!

    February 23, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Debby

    Oh how I pity some of you! The absolute apathy and ignorance of some of you only reinforces my opinion that so many people are simply stupid, nothing more. I hope your selfish ignorance keeps you warm at night. I bet you call yourselves christians too!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. ipmutt

    She was told to leave by her employer. She did not. She is dead. That's life. Get over it. If you choose to fan the flames you will get burned and mainstream media will encourage you to put your life at risk.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
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