Marie Colvin

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Marie Colvin
Marie Colvin.jpg
Born Marie Catherine Colvin
(1956-01-12)January 12, 1956
Astoria, Queens, New York City New York, US
Died February 22, 2012(2012-02-22) (aged 56)[1]
Homs, Syria[2]
Nationality American
Education Yale University
Spouse(s) Patrick Bishop (divorced)
Juan Carlos Gumucio (his death)

Marie Catherine Colvin (January 12, 1956 – February 22, 2012) was an American journalist who worked for the British newspaper The Sunday Times from 1985 until her death. She died while covering the siege of Homs in Syria.

After her death, Stony Brook University established the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting in her honor. Her family also established the Marie Colvin Memorial Fund through the Long Island Community Foundation, which strives to give donations in Marie's name in honor of her humanitarianism.[3] In July 2016, lawyers representing Colvin's family filed a civil action against the government of the Syrian Arab Republic claiming they had obtained proof that the Syrian government had directly ordered her assassination.

Early life[edit]

Marie Colvin was born in Astoria, Queens, New York, and grew up in East Norwich in the Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County, on Long Island.[4] She graduated from Oyster Bay High School in 1974.[5] She spent her junior year of high school abroad on an exchange program in Brazil and later attended Yale University. She was an anthropology major but took a course with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Hersey. She also started writing for The Yale Daily News "and decided to be a journalist," her mother said. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in anthropology in 1978.[6][7] During her time at Yale, Colvin was known for her strong personality and quickly established herself as a "noise-maker" on campus.[8]


Colvin worked briefly for a labor union in New York City, before starting her journalism career with United Press International (UPI), a year after graduating from Yale.[9] She worked for UPI first in Trenton, then New York and Washington. In 1984, Colvin was appointed Paris bureau manager for UPI, before moving to The Sunday Times in 1985.[10]

From 1986, she was the newspaper's Middle East correspondent, and then from 1995 was the Foreign Affairs correspondent. In 1986, she was the first to interview Muammar Gaddafi after Operation El Dorado Canyon.[11] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said in this interview that he was at home when U.S. planes bombed Tripoli in April 1986, and that he helped rescue his wife and children while "the house was coming down around us". Gadhafi also said reconciliation between Libya and the United States was impossible so long as Reagan was in the White House. "I have nothing to say to him (Ronald Reagan)", he said, "because he is mad. He is foolish. He is an Israeli dog."

In May 1988, Colvin made an extended appearance on the Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark, alongside Anton Shammas, Gerald Kaufman, Moshe Amirav, Nadia Hijab and others.

Specialising in the Middle East, she also covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and East Timor. In 1999 in East Timor, she was credited with saving the lives of 1,500 women and children from a compound besieged by Indonesian-backed forces. Refusing to abandon them, she stayed with a United Nations force, reporting in her newspaper and on television.[2] They were evacuated after four days. She won the International Women's Media Foundation award for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya.[12][13][14] She wrote and produced documentaries, including Arafat: Behind the Myth for the BBC.[15] She is featured in the 2005 documentary film Bearing Witness.

Colvin lost the sight in her left eye due to a blast by a Sri Lankan Army rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) on April 16, 2001, while crossing from a LTTE controlled area to a Government controlled area; thereafter she wore an eyepatch.

She was attacked even after calling out "journalist, journalist!" while reporting on the Sri Lankan Civil War.[16][17][18][19] She told Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News that her attacker "knew what he was doing."[20] Despite sustaining serious injuries, Colvin, who was 44 at the time, managed to write a 3,000 word article on time to meet the deadline.[21] She had walked over 30 miles through the Vanni jungle with her Tamil guides to evade government troops; she reported on the humanitarian disaster in the northern Tamil region, including a government blockade of food, medical supplies and prevention of foreign journalist access to the area for six years to cover the war.[19][20][22] Colvin later suffered post traumatic stress disorder and required hospitalisation following her injuries. She was also a witness and an intermediary during the final days of the war in Sri Lanka and reported on war crimes against Tamils that were committed during this phase.[19] Following her wounding, several days later, the Sri Lankan government said it would allow foreign journalists to travel in rebel-held zones. The director of Government information, Ariya Rubasinghe, stated that: "Journalists can go, we have not debarred them, but they must be fully aware of and accept the risk to their lives"[23]

In 2011, while reporting on the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, she was offered an opportunity to interview Muammar Gaddafi, along with two other journalists that she could nominate. For Gaddafi's first international interview since the start of the war, Colvin took along Christiane Amanpour of ABC News[24] and Jeremy Bowen of BBC News.[2][25] Colvin noted the importance of shining a light on "humanity in extremes, pushed to the unendurable", stating: "My job is to bear witness. I have never been interested in knowing what make of plane had just bombed a village or whether the artillery that fired at it was 120mm or 155mm."[2]

Personal life[edit]

Colvin was married twice to journalist Patrick Bishop; both marriages ended in divorce. She also married Bolivian journalist Juan Carlos Gumucio, who was correspondent for the Spanish newspaper "El País" in Beirut, during the Lebanese civil war. He committed suicide in February, 2002 in Bolivia because "the world was not a kind, nice and dignified place anymore", according to his fellow reporter Robert Fisk.[2]

Marie Colvin resided in Hammersmith, West London.[26] She had no children.[26]


In February 2012, Colvin illegally crossed into Syria on the back of a motocross motorcycle, ignoring the Syrian government's attempts to prevent foreign journalists from entering Syria to cover the Syrian civil war without permission. Colvin was stationed in the western Baba Amr district of the city of Homs, and made her last broadcast on the evening of February 21, appearing on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN and ITN News via satellite phone.[26] She described "merciless", indiscriminate shelling and sniper attacks against civilian buildings and people on the streets of Homs by Syrian forces.[2] Colvin, who had lost an eye to shrapnel in Sri Lanka and had covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Libya, and East Timor, described the bombardment of Homs as the worst conflict she had ever experienced.[27]

Name of Marie Colvin in the Memorial of Reporters of Bayeux.

Colvin died together with award-winning French photographer, Rémi Ochlik. An autopsy conducted in Damascus by the Syrian government concluded Marie Colvin was killed by an "improvised explosive device filled with nails." [28] The Syrian government claims the explosive device was planted by terrorists on February 22, 2012 while fleeing an unofficial media building which was being shelled by the Syrian Army.[17][29][30] This account was refuted by photographer Paul Conroy, who was with Colvin and Ochlik and survived the attack. Conroy recalled that Colvin and Ochlik were packing their gear when Syrian artillery fire hit their media centre.[31]

Journalist Jean-Pierre Perrin and other sources reported that the building had been targeted by the Syrian Army, identified using satellite phone signals.[32] Their team had been planning an exit strategy a few hours prior.[20]

On the evening of February 22, 2012, people of Homs mourned in the streets in honour of Colvin and Ochlik. Tributes were paid to Colvin across the media industry and political world following her death.[33][34]

Colvin's personal possessions came with her. This included a backpack containing basic supplies: a change of clothes, two satellite phones and a black box containing a 387-page manuscript by her lifelong friend, Gerald Weaver. Colvin's sister, Cathleen 'Cat' Colvin set about finding Weaver and along with Sean Ryan, then foreign editor of The Sunday Times, helped to have his book published.[35][36]

Colvin's funeral took place in Oyster Bay, New York, on 12 March 2012, in a service attended by 300 mourners including those who had followed her dispatches, friends and family.[37]

In July 2016, lawyers representing Colvin's family filed a civil action against the government of the Syrian Arab Republic for extrajudicial killing claiming they had obtained proof that the Syrian government had directly ordered Colvin's targeted assassination.[38] In April 2018, the accusations were revealed on court papers filed by her family.[39]


  • 2000 – Journalist of the Year, Foreign Press Association
  • 2000 – Courage in Journalism, International Women's Media Foundation
  • 2001 – Foreign Reporter of the Year, British Press Awards
  • 2009 – Foreign Reporter of the Year, British Press Awards
  • 2012 – Anna Politkovskaya Award, Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR)
  • 2012 – Foreign Reporter of the Year, British Press Awards

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nordland, Rod; Cowell, Alan (February 22, 2012). "Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria Shelling". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Greenslade, Roy (February 22, 2012). "Marie Colvin obituary". The Guardian. London. 
  3. ^ Marie Colvin bio accessed 7-31-2015
  4. ^ Ramos, Víctor Manuel (March 5, 2012). "Marie Colvin's body due back on Long Island Tuesday". Newsday. Long Island. Retrieved July 20, 2016. Born in Astoria, Queens, Colvin, 56, grew up in East Norwich and attended high school in Oyster Bay. 
  5. ^ Ramos, Víctor Manuel; Murphy, William (March 12, 2012). "Marie Colvin funeral draws hundreds of mourners". Newsday. Long Island. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Journalist Killed in Syria Attended Yale". NBC Connecticut. February 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ Sisgoreo, Daniel (February 22, 2012). "Colvin '78 killed in Syria". Yale Daily News. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Foreign correspondent, Yale alum killed on assignment". 
  9. ^ Ricchiardi, Sherry (April 2000). "Highway to the Danger Zone". American Journalism Review. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ Barron, James (February 22, 2012). "Recalling Her Determined Daughter, a Journalist Killed in Syria". New York Times. 
  11. ^ Miller, Judith (1997). God has Ninety-Nine Names: Reporting from a Militant Middle East. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 232. ISBN 0-684-83228-3. 
  12. ^ Dagmar Fors Karppi. "Woman Journalist Gets Her Story: In Spite of Grenade Attack, Marie Colvin Files Her Report". Anton News. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Walford, Charles (February 22, 2012). "Veteran Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin 'killed in heavy shelling in Syria' just hours after broadcast on ITN News At Ten". Mail Online. London. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  14. ^ Spillius, Alex (February 22, 2012). "Marie Colvin killed in Syria: life and times of distinguished war correspondent". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  15. ^ Fatima, Nazish (February 22, 2012). "Death of Marie Colvin, American journalist of war". Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  16. ^ Hodgson, Jessica (April 18, 2001). "Sunday Times journalist may lose sight". Guardian. London. 
  17. ^ a b Wardrop, Murray (February 22, 2012). "Syria: Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin 'killed in Homs'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  18. ^ Walt, Vivienne (February 22, 2012). "Syria: War Reporter Marie Colvin and Photographer Rémi Ochlik Are Killed". Time. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c Colvin, Marie (May 25, 2009). "Slain Tamil chiefs were promised safety". The Australian. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c Hilsum, Lindsey (February 22, 2012). "My friend, Marie Colvin". World News Blog. Channel 4. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  21. ^ COLVIN, M. "Tigers begged me to broker surrender" The Sunday Times
  22. ^ Greenslade, Roy (February 22, 2012). "Marie Colvin obituary". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  23. ^ "SRI LANKA TO ALLOW PRESS INTO AREAS", AP. 2001, April 22
  24. ^ Amanpour, Christiane (March 1, 2011). "Col Gaddafi 'brushed off the international pressure'". ABC News. 
  25. ^ Bowen, Jeremy (March 1, 2011). "Col Gaddafi 'brushed off the international pressure'". BBC News. 
  26. ^ a b c Walford, Charles; Ramdani, Nabila (February 22, 2012). "Veteran American war reporter Marie Colvin killed when Syrian army shells media center just hours after her last TV broadcast". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Syria's Government Lies". CNN. Feb 22, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Syrie – La vérité sur la mort de la journaliste américaine Marie Colvin" (in French). Algeria ISP. March 5, 2012. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  29. ^ "'Foreign journalists killed' in Homs shelling". Al Jazeera. February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Veteran war reporter Marie Colvin killed in Syria". UK: Channel 4. February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  31. ^ Wood, Paul (2016-07-09). "Marie Colvin's Family Blames Assad for Her Death". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2016-07-10. 
  32. ^ Nabila Ramdani, Peter Allen in Paris (February 22, 2012). "Marie Colvin: Britain summons Syria ambassador over killing". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Syrian activists pay tribute to journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik killed in Homs". London: The Telegraph. February 23, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Tributes paid to Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin". BBC. February 22, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  35. ^ "marie-colvin-her-yale-sweetheart-remembers". 
  36. ^ "book-boost-to-colvin-fund". 
  37. ^ Walters, Joanna (March 12, 2012). "Marie Colvin: mourners say farewell to 'talented, compassionate' war reporter". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  38. ^ "War reporter Marie Colvin was tracked, targeted and killed by Assad's forces, family says". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-10. 
  39. ^ "Syria 'assassinated reporter Marie Colvin'". April 10, 2018 – via 

Further reading[edit]

  • Leith, Denise (2004). Bearing Witness: The Lives of War Correspondents and Photojournalists. Random House Australia. pp. 92f. ISBN 1-74051-260-X. 
  • Mills, Eleanor (2005). "Marie Colvin, 1957–". Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs: 100 Years of the Best Journalism by Women. London: Constable. pp. 152f. ISBN 1-84529-165-4. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Christina Lamb
British Foreign Reporter of the Year
Succeeded by
Jon Swain
Preceded by
Dan McDougall
Succeeded by
Charles Clover