September 28, 2003 by

Mark Fineman


Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

Mark Fineman, a veteran reporter for the Los Angeles Times, died on Sept. 23 of a heart attack. He was 51.
Fineman graduated with a journalism and philosophy degree from Syracuse University, and wrote for Suburban Week, a supplement to the Chicago Sun-Times and the former Chicago Daily News. After spending a year covering the metro beat for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper sent him to its New Delhi bureau to work as a foreign correspondent. The Los Angeles Times then hired him in 1986 to cover international news.
During his 17 years with The Times, Fineman served as the Middle East bureau chief, the Mexico City bureau chief and Caribbean bureau chief. He received the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting for his coverage of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the Bhopal chemical accident that killed more than 2,000 people. He also shared an Overseas Press Club award for his reporting in India and the Philippines.
“If you think of foreign correspondents as a type, he was Exhibit A. He couldn’t bear to be away from the action. He just had an intrepid spirit. He wasn’t afraid to go where he needed to go to cover a story,” said John S. Carroll, editor of the Los Angeles Times.
Fineman was waiting at a Baghdad checkpoint to interview a member of the Iraqi governing council when he collapsed. His final story appeared on the front page of the Times the same day he died.

6 Responses to Mark Fineman

  1. Jon Petersen

    I met Mark In 1970 when he first arrived at Syracuse University. We soon became friends and later became roommates. He was a journalist long before he got his degree in journalism. I always envied Mark, first for knowing what he wanted to do with his life, and later for being one of the few people that I knew that truly enjoyed his career. I cannot imagine Mark being anything else than a journalist. Like Napolean he marched to the sounds of the cannons. I miss him.

  2. Iris Kogan Biagioli

    I knew Mark in Chicago, when he was a writer for the Suburban News. We had a close personal relationship and I loved to talk to him when he was in the middle of a story, looking for a catchy title for his news article. I am sorry that I lost contact, but thought of him and my times with him, dancing, and enjoying life as he began his career, as I lived among him and his other writer friends. To all, his mom, and his brother, I am deeply sorry for his loss. Most of all, I am sorry that I didn’t truly say good bye to him.

  3. Frans Nijhof

    I am shocked to read only now (March 2004) that Mark Fineman is not anymore among us. As a former Dutch foreign correspondent, I met Mark for the first time in 1986, when Ferdinand Marcos won the elections in the Philippines. In the following years, we shared our news and sources, especially in countries where it was a tough job to get reliable sources. By sharing our sources, we where able to sort out propaganda from both sides. Several frontpage stories in my Dutch national daily newspaper the Volkskrant, were discussed with Mark Fineman. As a matter of course somewhere in one of the hundreds of bars in the streets of Manila. Mark even spoke pretty well Dutch as he lived for one year in Amsterdam. Coming July I’ll visit with my family the US for a holiday. I planned to get in touch with Mark as he became a friend of me in the Far East. Now I realize I’m too late.

  4. Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

    I worked with Mark Fineman in Baghdad as an interpreter for three weeks and shared a suite with him in the Hamra hotel. He was such a dedicated ” go-getter journalist”. He went to Baghdad against his doctor’s advice. I think he died the way he wanted to, with a Cuban cigar in his pocket and Johni Walker in his blood covering a story. I miss debating with him during curfew hours, and I sure learned a lot from him. The carefree Hawaiian shirts, the long ponytail, and the chain smoking would give you the impression he was a rock star ,but I guess that is how he seduced people in Baghdad and got the best stories out of his interviews. Check his photo in and Soon enough you will see his character come to live again in the movie version of the book. Rest In Peace….

  5. Makonnen Blake Hannah

    I am so shocked that I did not know that Mark Fineman had died in 2003. He came to Jamaica in 1998 to interview me when I was appointed Youth Technology Consultant to the Jamaican Government, and we became good friends. He wrote a really GREAT article about me that appeared in the LA Times, Time Magazine and several other publications, and he said it was one of his favourite stories.
    Mark stayed in touch and came to see us on two other visits to Jamaica. He also took some really good photos of me and my Mom that we still treature.
    I am really sorry to know I won’t see him again, but I am glad that I had the chance to meet such a good journalist and a great guy.
    Makonnen Blake Hannah

  6. "Mark From Anaheim"

    When the US was in Somalia, their headquarters was an oil refinery, and at least the LA Times said on Page 1, how Connoco, Amoco, etc were dividing up the profits. It will be 14 years this week, and this is still my all – time favorite front page L A Times news story.
    Mark Fineman was the author of the article which I still consider my all – time favorite front – page story, regarding Somalia. No comment regarding the fact that Mark had made a few enemies within the government. I will simply accept the official story that he “collapsed from a heart attack.” (RIP Mark 08/03/1952 – 09/23/2003)……..”Mark From Anaheim”

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