Readers' Representative Journal

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Richard Boudreaux to leave The Times

December 11, 2009 |  5:29 pm

Here's the note to the staff from Foreign Editor Bruce Wallace:

Many intangibles make a great foreign correspondent but some of the essential qualities are well-known: deep curiosity, a willingness to see events through different eyes, extraordinary energy, and the courage to deal with danger while having the good judgment to not get hurt and get the story out. For 23 years, Richard Boudreaux demonstrated all this and more in a series of foreign postings that placed him at the heart of the great stories of his generation.

Richard is leaving The Times this month after bringing honor and distinction to the paper's foreign coverage. He has reported from more than 50 countries, beginning in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s when the region was in the grip of war. He moved to Moscow in the early 1990s as a wounded Russia emerged from the Soviet Union, followed by postings to The Times' bureaus in Rome and Mexico City. In 2005, as Iraq slipped towards anarchy, Richard stepped forward to run our Baghdad bureau, providing cool leadership on a story that re-wrote the rules on danger for journalists. It will always be one of the proudest chapters in the paper's history. His last posting was to Jerusalem, where he brought his customary fairness and tenacity to a story that requires a steady hand, and found himself once again reporting on a war and on the terrible things people can do to one another.

Through all those assignments and hundreds of stories, Richard established daunting standards for hard work and exhaustive reporting. Tracy Wilkinson, who has known and worked alongside Richard since the 1980s, says his diligence and tenacity set him apart from other reporters. "When others were done for the day, he would ask more and more questions until he had the story more thorough and more right than anyone else," she says. "And it was worth it. He would come up with the tiny detail that no one else had, which would give his stories a texture." That determination to capture nuance, to add understanding, and to never cut corners on fairness are attributes we can strive to uphold. As Tracy said, Richard sees foreign reporting "as a craft that you can always improve."

Yet as competitive as he was, Richard remained the most generous of colleagues. He leaves friends, not just co-workers, at The Times. The correspondents who shared assignments and who sent farewell notes to Richard through the foreign desk last week all mentioned encountering his love for a long run, through the ruins of Rome or Jerusalem or wherever he found himself reporting from. We all wish him many more miles to run, and thank him for making us better.