“I don’t want the knife”

The Christian Science Monitor is finally doing a feature on Jill Carroll, told in her own words. Yeah, remember Jill Carroll? Kidnapped? Her translator was shot right in front of her? Really long time, like 82 days, being held by extemists? Finally released and just dropped off the radar? The special section for her also has a series of articles dating back to the beginning of the saga, so you can follow the story in full if you’ve forgotten bits.

It’s an awesome series of articles and I am really looking forward to reading them all the way through, even if they are being mean and putting up teasers, movie theatre style, instead of releasing the whole story all at once. Serial journalism at its best. The Chronicle is also carrying the articles, although I think the CSM special is better because of the multi-media offerings.

The accompanying photos are also quite good, as are the video clip snippets for those of you with lots of bandwidth to burn.

Jill Carroll is an excellent writer. The story is well written, gripping, and moving. I really think you should all go read it. I’ll even confess that I cried a little bit reading parts of it, and we know I’m busy most of the time looking stoic. It’s interesting to read this first hand account by someone who had a lot of experience in Iraq, and still was kidnapped–it’s not just new arrivals on the ground, but anyone, who is at risk. She started reporting in Iraq in 2003, and most people asked about her speak well of her ability to communicate information passionately, but with minimal judgment. She knew the scene, and the score, in the area very well. She also knew the dangers of reporting in the Middle East–she was on the staff of the Wall Street Journal when Daniel Pearl was kidnapped. She’s good–she conveys the fear that she felt, and also tells an objective clear story of the series of events she encountered. It must have been an intense experience to write about, after all.

The kidnappings (and beheadings) of journalists bother me very much. I sort of feel that the press and the medical corps are entitled to certain exceptions during wartime, such as not being kidnapped and killed. Both are doing a vital service to both sides–telling stories, and healing. The use of innocent men and women to pull power plays is deeply distasteful to me. I believe that insurgents should at least be kidnapping questionable private defense contractors, not reporters, even if the press corps are there by choice.

Reporters Sans Frontieres has more information on the current state of freedom of the press, including a list of reporters currently in captivity all over the world. According to their statistics, 103 newspeople have died in Iraq since the start of the war. This is something you should care about.

Are there some reporters with questionable motives, some of whom may even be assisting their governments? Well…yes. And that’s irritating, because it softens the divide between non-combatents and the rest. There are far more, however, who are actually making positive changes in the places they work, who are risking their lives to bring out information, who deserve better than beheading and being shot point blank in the head. I still feel that the press deserves protections, that they should not be targeted for military actions and fear tactics, and I am proud of the Christian Science Monitor and the international community for fighting for Jill, putting out appeals, and demanding her return. The effort was successful–she made it back to American soil to tell her story to us.

I hope that this experience doesn’t prevent her from continuing her career as a journalist–it would be a sad loss.

[Jill Carroll]