Every once in a while, news arrives that hits you like a ton of bricks, coming from so far out of left field that you could never have seen it coming, even if you’d been looking for it. This is not a piece about the Government Shutdowns, Debt Ceilings, or the Tea Party. It is, however, a short and personal piece about something that puts all that nonsense into context.
As a talking head on various media outlets, I’m expected to be able to talk on demand, but this week I have been left lost for words, due to an event that I know has distressed a number of people that I have been fortunate enough to work with at Aljazeera. Last weekend we lost one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to know: Elizabeth Idienumah.
Elizabeth was not necessarily someone you would know from watching Aljazeera, but if you had ever worked with the channel, if you had been invited to give an interview, then she was someone you would never forget: glamorous, statuesque, striking, utterly charming and a true professional, Elizabeth worked as an Interview Producer in the London bureau of Aljazeera English, arranging for those of us with something to say, to turn up at the right place, at the right time and deliver the goods on camera. Heading into the London studios has always been a pleasure, one made all the more enjoyable by the team on the Interview Desk. Along with her colleagues Mandy, Ruchi and recently Caroline, Elizabeth was always on hand to ensure that the interviews went smoothly and on schedule.
Yet Elizabeth brought an extra dimension with her; an essential quality of decency and passion for news gathering and information delivery that was a delight to behold. Always ready with a wide, beaming smile, she was a joy to work with. Elizabeth could be relied on to go far beyond the necessary and perfunctory aspects of her remit, and to inquire how things were going. She remembered the details that counted, the facts that mattered and understood how to get the very best out of those of us she worked with. Of course, she made it seem like anything but work. Her warmth and focus was always something to anticipate, a pleasure to behold, and all too suddenly, a wonderful, poignant memory.
Working with Elizabeth at Aljazeera was always a pleasure and her passing this weekend, aged 42, is an absolute tragedy; a loss to her colleagues, to the network and to those of us who had the very great pleasure of working with her over the last several years. To say that she will be missed is an all too obvious sentiment. She will be succeeded, but never replaced…