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.