NPR Remembers Marie Colvin on Talk of the Nation

Remembering War Correspondent Marie Colvin

February 22, 2012 – 1:00 PM ET

Journalist Marie Colvin, of Britain’s Sunday Times, was killed in Syria Wednesday — along with French photographer Remi Ochlik. NPR’s Neal Conan remembers the foreign journalist who joined Talk of the Nation several times, reporting from Gaza and Libya.


Forgive us if we hold a special place for the reporters who go into harm’s way to tell the stories of civilians and soldiers caught in the horrors of combat. All of them are grown-ups and know the risks. The loss of their lives is no more or less tragic than the death of a doctor or a teacher or a grocer, but we would never learn what happened to those others if the reporters didn’t take the cameras and notebooks and risk their lives to tell us the story.

Last week, the great reporter Anthony Shadid died of asthma inside Syria, on assignment for The New York Times. We spoke with him often, from Baghdad, and more recently Beirut. Today, news that Marie Colvin was killed by shell fire in the city of Homs. French photographer Remi Ochlik died beside her. Two other French journalists were injured. Fifty-six years old, originally from Long Island, for the past 25 years, a correspondent for the Sunday Times of London. We spoke with her last at the height of the battle in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata last April.


MARIE COLVIN: These are big missiles coming in. The Grads are 12 pounds. They’re punching through concrete roofs. I saw one house today, two of them went right through the roof. The little eight-year-old boy was – his aunt was killed inside. He was killed as he ran outside trying to get into the family car. Another missile hit that car. They leave huge, I would say, three-foot-by-three-foot circumference holes. So you have to be able to see them.

And we don’ know why NATO planes are not hitting, because they come – absolutely come under the definition of the U.N. Security Council 1973: protect civilians. Civilians are dying here. The only sign we’ve seen of a NATO strike was on the Faculty of Science, where Gadhafi’s soldiers were holed up four days ago. They left four days ago. That was hit last night. It’s empty, luckily.

CONAN: We just have a minute left with you, and I want to ask you, though: How is the situation in the city? I gather you’re talking to us from a hospital. How are – are medical supplies available? Are people being treated?

COLVIN: I was staying in a house. I moved over to the hospital because nothing is safe here anymore. I just thought the hospital might be the safest place. Also, I can – I mean, I was out in an ambulance last night. One of the missiles fell so close, the ambulance lifted two feet off the ground. The doctors here – we had 10 killed today, 24 wounded. People are still coming – the injured are still coming in. The doctors here have enough medical supplies. They’ve taken them from all over the city. They need doctors. They need nurses. And when I say enough, they’ve got about a week’s worth, they figure. But if casualties continue escalating in the way they are, they’re going to run out sooner than they think. It’s a really desperate situation, here.

CONAN: Marie Colvin, reporting from the siege of Misrata in Libya last year. The reporter died earlier today covering the siege of Homs in Syria.


CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. I’m Neal Conan, in Washington.

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