Marie Colvin: The bravest reporter of the MidEast

The death of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin in Syria this week shook the world. The Telegraph's executive foreign editor, who faced the intifada alongside Colvin, and a former JC editor, pay their tributes to her

February 23, 2012
Marie Colvin posing with Libyan rebels in Misrata last year

Marie Colvin posing with Libyan rebels in Misrata last year

My friend Marie Colvin was not only one of the finest reporters of her generation, she was also a charming woman with a keen sense of humour who loved nothing more than covering a good story.

You only have to look at the tributes that have been paid to her courage and tenacity from all over the world to see that she was no ordinary journalist, which is why she won so many awards during her long and distinguished career as a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times.

I first met Marie in Tripoli in April 1986, when she was a reporter with the UPI news wire. The Americans had just bombed Tripoli to punish Colonel Gaddafi for supporting terrorism, and she had got herself an exclusive interview with the "Mad Dog" through a combination of charm and determination. She never looked back.

Soon afterwards she joined the staff of the Sunday Times as its Middle East correspondent, and for the next two decades we regularly ran into each other in some of the region's hell-holes. I remember one occasion in Jerusalem during the first intifada when she took a direct hit in the face from a stone thrown by a Palestinian rioter, which broke her nose. Rather than complaining, she made jokes about what rotten shots they were.

Following the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, she managed to make PLO leader Yasir Arafat one of her best contacts, and was often invited to join him on his private plane. But while she valued the stories he gave her, she never forgave him for always calling her "Mary" instead of by her real name.

Apart from being an excellent reporter, Marie was a delightful, charming and witty woman who was greatly admired and loved by her family and friends. We will all miss her.

Con Coughlin, the Daily Telegraph's executive foreign editor

Marie Colvin, who was killed while covering the Syrian army's bombardment of Homs this week, was among the bravest, most professional and most sensitive foreign correspondents with whom it has been my privilege to work.

She could come over as tough - almost, at times, a parody of the proudly fearless war reporter. But it was toughness with a purpose. She grew up, as I did, with the post-Watergate-era sense of mission that made becoming a journalist in the United States not just a job, but a calling to make a difference in the world.

She never lost that. At huge cost, including the loss of an eye from a shrapnel wound in Sri Lanka, she always felt a sense of duty to tell the truth about murder, injustice, torture, suffering - especially in those corners where they would otherwise go on without the rest of the world knowing. Even if she could not force people to care or to act, although she always tried to do so, she was determined to remove that familiar, terrible excuse: we would have done something to stop it, but we didn't know.

She will be a huge loss.

By Ned Temko, former editor of the JC, who worked alongside Colvin in Beirut

    Last updated: 1:58pm, February 23 2012