I don't usually write about current events. I have a lot of strong opinions, but I've never felt that news stories, per se, belonged in my blog about technology, but Jill Carroll's story was one that touched me from the beginning of her ordeal, perhaps because we share some common ground. She graduated from my Alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, albeit about 20 years apart. She came through the same journalism program that I did. I imagine, like me, she worked for the college daily, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, and cut her reporting teeth there, tracking down campus news, just as I did. But that's where the commonalities end.
She has more courage than I would ever have, sitting in the safety of my home office, blogging and reporting about technology, a subject that I enjoy writing about, but one that I'm sure does not affect the lives of real people in any way. Jill Carroll ventured into the belly of the beast. She didn't just make some phone calls, take some notes, and write an article. She put her life on the line to report about what was happening in Iraq. By all reports, she was a good reporter who respected the people of Iraq and their culture, much more so than the U.S. occupiers, I would dare say.
I never knew Jill Carroll, never was aware of her work, but when word came out about her kidnapping and word slowly leaked about her background and her work, my heart went out to her and her family, perhaps more so than any other victim of the cruel war in Iraq, because she and I came through the same program, walked the same paths, worked in the same newsroom on the same campus separated only by time. For that reason, her kidnapping touched me in a way that no other tragic event that rolls out of Iraq on a daily basis with so much regularity that my eyes gloss over when I read about another suicide bombing, another kidnapping, another report of 20 people dead.
But I have to say that my heart leapt with joy when I opened up my email box this morning and found this Washington Post report that Jill Carroll was free. For once, in this crazy, mixed-up world, the right thing happened. The good guy (gal) came out on top. Though we've never met, Jill Carroll, please accept my virtual tip of the cap and know that folks in Amherst, Massachusetts and all over the world are rejoicing that you are free.