Schanberg, Sydney H.

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SCHANBERG, SYDNEY H. (1934– ), U.S. journalist. Born in Clinton, Massachusetts, Sydney Hillel Schanberg graduated from Harvard University. He joined the staff of The New York Times in the late 1950s and covered local news before becoming Albany bureau chief, where he covered the activities of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and the New York State legislature. His first foreign assignment for the Times took him to India and Pakistan during the late 1960s and early 1970s, with side trips to cover the Vietnam War. But after the end of the war Schanberg heard about the American bombing of Cambodia, which President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A. *Kissinger denied. In Cambodia, Schanberg covered the emergence of the Khmer Rouge, a secretive revolutionary group that conducted genocide against the Cambodian people, particularly the educated. Schanberg chose to stay in Cambodia in 1975 after the Americans were thrown out of the country, partly to report the story and partly to help his assistant, Dith Pran, and his family survive. Schanberg failed to save Pran, who managed to elude his captors for several years by working in rice fields, but Schanberg finally had to flee. His report of the mass murders committed by the Khmer Rouge for the purpose of cleansing Cambodia provided a chilling story of a death machine. Schanberg's reports earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1976. The dramatic story, told in the book The Death and Life of Dith Pran, and the reunion of Schanberg and Pran were made into a film, The Killing Fields, in 1984, that won three Academy Awards. Schanberg returned to the Times a year after the Pulitzer and shortly thereafter became metropolitan editor. But he was not an effective administrator and he was replaced, becoming a columnist. After a while, Schanberg became a columnist for New York Newsday, commenting on a wide variety of topics, including events in New York City. When that paper folded, Schanberg joined The Village Voice in New York, where he wrote the Press Clips column. He was a strong opponent of the Bush administration and its war in Iraq. He also took to task Senator John Kerry in 1993 for his alleged drive to normalize relations with Hanoi.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]