Channel 4 News foreign correspondent who reported with humanity and humility on pivotal moments in world affairs
by Jon Snow
The Channel 4 News foreign affairs specialist Gaby Rado, who has died in Iraq aged 48, was a rare kind of foreign correspondent. From Bosnia to Afghanistan, from Bucharest to Jericho, he brought a dependable, engaged and humane quality to his reports that eschewed the flash or the immodest. Despite witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Ceausescu, and the liberation of Kosovo, he never played the conquering hero. His reports from northern Iraq, his last as recently as Friday, were informative, strong on context, and interspersed with revealing interviews with those who were preparing to people Iraq's developing northern war front.
Rado was born in the Hungarian capital Budapest. By the time he was eight, his parents had fled with him to Britain. Perhaps those troubled beginnings in a country repressed by its Soviet masters informed his fascination with the eastern bloc.
Educated at King's College Wimbledon, he read English at Christ's College, Cambridge. His life as a journalist started on the Kentish Times in 1976.
His career as a TV correspondent was to bring his parents great pride; his mother used to photograph his reports to camera off the TV screen and put the pictures up around her kitchen.
Gaby joined Channel 4 News as a writer in 1985 having learned his TV news trade at the BBC. Within three years he had become a reporter, and found himself almost immediately charged with covering the disintegration of the Berlin Wall. Russia, Yugloslavia, Israel, Afghanistan, and ultimately Iraq followed. Gaby's reporting tracked the new world disorder that chased so hard behind the collapse of communism.
It was while covering post-cold war Russia, as C4 News's Moscow correspondent that he and his first wife Carol suffered the terrible loss, in a swimming accident, of their four-year-old son Nicky, which imbued his journalism with ever greater intensity. For most of the 1990s he reported Yugoslavia's break-up, bringing a particular humanity to his reports, so many of which centred on the suffering of refugees in huge numbers, and the inter-ethnic slaughter which none of our generation had ever seen the like of in Europe before.
Gaby had an extraordinary track record. In March 1993 he was alone in uncovering how all the mosques in the Bosnian town of Bijelina had been dynamited in one night by a Serb paramilitary group. In March 1997 he was the only foreign reporter at the Albanian uprising in the south of the country which led within weeks to the overthrow of the government. And he was among the first correspondents to report the outbreak of war on Afghanistan in 2001.
Are Independent Journalists Being 'Executed' By the Bush Administration?
US threatens to eliminate independent war journalists