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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

U. Massachusetts journalism school to recognize Carroll with award

Massachusetts Daily Collegian (U. Massachusetts)

(U-WIRE) AMHERST, Mass. – Each year the International Women’s Media Foundation honors three distinguished female journalists with the Courage of Journalism award. On Oct. 24, University of Massachusetts alumna Jill Carroll will become one of the recipients in New York City.

Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped and held hostage for 82 days in an undisclosed location in Baghdad. Armed attackers broke into the car Carroll was driving, shot and killed her translator and beat her driver before taking her hostage.

“‘They’re going to take me out into a field and kill me,’ I thought as we bumped down rural back roads,” she wrote later.

While in captivity, she performed household chores with the other women, played with the children and heard tales of the war going on outside.

Meanwhile, back at UMass, where Carroll graduated in 1999 and had been a Massachusetts Daily Collegian editor, students, faculty and friends attended rallies in support of her safe release. A giant banner hung over the Student Union read “Free Jill.”

She was safely released on March 30, 2006.

During the fall semester of 2006, Carroll will research the decline of foreign bureaus due to changes within the newspaper industry at the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard University.

Upon Carroll’s return, she wrote an 11-part series for the Christian Science Monitor, narrating her tale from her kidnapping to day of her release.

She includes details like watching Oprah on television, making videotapes that were broadcast in the United States and constantly thinking of how to survive.

In one installment of the Monitor series, Carroll learned of the willingness of Iraqi women to become suicide bombers. As she heard one woman declare her intention, Carroll wrote, “I feigned confusion while I tried to think to think what to say.”

Carroll, who has an IQ of 140, according to the Monitor, often used her wits to stay alive.

The IWMF’s Courage in Journalism award honors female journalists who have shown “extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances,” according to organization’s Web site. The awards were announced on May 31 and will be presented at ceremonies in New York on Oct. 24 and in Los Angeles on Nov. 2.