Local Reporters Remember Former Free Press Photojournalist David Gilkey

NPR’s David Gilkey remembered as intense, talented, photojournalist who worked to make news human.

NPR Photojournalist David Gilkey, killed Sunday in Afghanistan, was known for his moving photos that explained human suffering and offered hope from some of the world’s most violent war zones and biggest catastrophes.

“He gave his all,” says Joe Swickard, a retired Detroit Free Press reporter who worked with Gilkey in Detroit and on a special assignment in Iraq. Swickard joined WDET’s Sandra Svoboda, a long-time southeast Michigan reporter who was friends with Gilkey, on the Detroit Today program. The two shared memories of Gilkey, 50, a native of Portland, and talked about the importance of his work and how the photographer will be remembered.

Gilkey and NPR’s Afghan Interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna died Sunday while on assignment in Afghanistan. While traveling with an Afghan army unit, their armored Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in an apparent ambush.

NPR published remembrances of Gilkey along with some of his most stunning photos. Gilkey spent 11 years with the Free Press, working in and around the city and traveling to Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq and returning with photos that were part of the complex stories of conflict. He had many overseas assignments at NPR, which he joined in 2007.

“He wanted to make people really know what was going on around him,” Swickard says. “I think at times he was frustrated that people were unaware of the tragedies and struggles happening around the world and around the block.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio link above.