David Rohde, the Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter who was famously kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008, is leaving the paper of record to become a columnist at Reuters.
"I've long admired David's richly reported, deeply insightful work. I'm thrilled that he's joining our Reuters team," said Stephen Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters, in a statement announcing the news Tuesday afternoon.
The Times' internal announcement also praised him.
"The strength of character that David demonstrated during and after his captivity will be sorely missed by his colleagues," investigations editor Matt Purdy wrote in a memo to staff. "I announce this with much regret because he is a such a terrific journalist and a wonderful colleague."
Rhode, who will write columns on foreign affairs and globalization, is the latest in a string of high-profile Times staffers to depart in the past year. A handful, including Tim O'Brien and Peter Goodman, have joined the Huffington Post. Various editors from the op-ed desk have jumped ship for Bloomberg's new opinion venture. And long-time columnists Frank Rich and Bob Herbert recently left to work for New York magazine and write a book, respectively. Less than an hour before the news about Rohde went out, we reported that Times Magazine politics editor Chris Suellentrop is joining Yahoo as deputy editor of news blogs.
Reuters, meanwhile, is beefing up its talent roster with marquee bylines like Rohde's as it broadens its scope to appeal to a more general interest audience. The news service also just added veteran journalist (and husband of Tina Brown) Sir Harold Evans as an editor-at-large, and has lured big names like Chrystia Freeland, Jim Impoco, Mark Hosenball, Jim Ledbetter and Felix Salmon over the past several years. Reuters had also been in talks with veteran Washington Post politics reporter Dan Balz about coming on board, but Balz ultimately elected to remain with the Post.
In a memo to staff, Freeland, who was recently promoted to lead Reuters' digital charge, described Rohde--a 15-year Times veteran--as "one of the most brilliant and consequential journalists of his generation." He has two Pulitzers under his belt, one for a series of 1996 Christian Science Monitor stories on the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, and another as part of a New York Times team whose Afghanistan and Pakistan coverage won the top journalism prize for international reporting in 2009.
After being captured by the Taliban while on assignment in Afghanistan in 2008, Rohde was held captive for seven months before escaping the following June.
"Over those months, I came to a simple realization," he wrote in October of 2009. "After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become."
He also was held captive by Bosnian Serbs in 1995 while reporting for the Monitor. The photo above pictures him shortly after he was released.