Ryszard Kapuscinski, the legendary Polish foreign correspondent whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez called “the true master of journalism”, and who has just passed away at the age of 74, covered 27 coups and revolutions across the world.
The Daily Telegraph, London, says his way of life and slim means took him close to the edge. He fell prey to tuberculosis and cerebral malaria. Short of food to appease the worms in his stomach, he took to smoking them out.
“After 40 cigarettes a night, the worm would just finally die,” Kapuscinski recalled. (Read the obituary here)
The Times, London, speaks of Kapuscinski’s irritation at journalists who, when on assignment, pulled out their phones to call home. Once he accompanied a British camera team to film in Ethiopia.
“On reaching high land, the team took out their mobile phones and rang home. This was not Kapuscinski’s way. “In their thoughts, they had never left London”, he complained. Rarely, if ever, did he make contact with his wife, the paediatrician Alicja Mielczarek, during months of travel. For him, there was only the truth on the ground, a gritty but often magical reality.” (Read the obituary here)
The Guardian, London, reports on why Kapuscinski considered the Greek historian Herodotus the world’s first great reporter, and elucidated on his three-step formula for great reporting.
“First, be willing to submit to hard, painstaking travel to get information first hand. Then, be able to listen carefully and respectfully to people. Third, do your homework, be investigative and precise. Journalists must be missionaries, translators and messengers.” (Read the obituary here)