The arrest of an American journalist in Russia is awful. For me, it’s also painfully personal

By | March 31, 2023

Margaret Sullivan writes:

His face stared out from news stories on Thursday morning, accompanied by headlines like this one in the Guardian: “Russia arrests reporter and accuses him of espionage.”

Oh, that’s awful, I thought at first, reflecting that we really are involved in some kind of new cold war, and there is no end to the toll that authoritarian governments will take on journalists. The imprisonment of journalists is at a historic high worldwide; I’ve written columns about that. And I know that there are close to 20 journalists in Russian jails and that Vladimir Putin’s administration has instituted harsh consequences for what it considers “fake” news, a highly subjective judgment.

And then, a moment later, another reality hit me.

“Evan,” I said out loud in my hotel room. In that moment, this news story moved out of the realm of professional dismay and into the intensely personal.

Suddenly, this was the fresh-faced young man in his early 20s, a recent graduate of Bowdoin College, often wearing a pine-green pullover sweater and with his hair in slight disarray, with whom I had worked so closely at the New York Times.

During my last year there as public editor (the paper’s reader representative and ombudswoman), Evan Gershkovich was my editorial assistant.

Funny and helpful, hard-working, thoughtful beyond his years and idealistic about journalistic ethics, Evan was an utter pleasure to have around. [Continue reading…]