FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2006
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Courage Acceptance Speech on behalf of Jill Carroll
Jill Carroll's mother, Mary Beth Carroll Roth, accepted the Courage in Journalism Award on her daughter's behalf at a ceremony Nov. 2 in Los Angeles. Her remarks are below.
Good Evening. Thank you for inviting me here tonight and for the support and consideration you’ve shown my family. Thank you, especially, for honoring my daughter with this award for “integrity and strength of character in difficult and dangerous situations.”
I’m sure you wish Jill were here, but as journalists, you understand that Jill doesn’t want to be the story. Praising her for simply doing her job disconcerts her.
"...I don't think I actually deserve all that adulation," Jill said. "But I think more people are responding to the ideals that The Christian Science Monitor puts out there and less to me personally...responding more to those ideals of truth and honesty, and the pursuit of information..."
I hope Jill is right. Journalists have commented to me that they have never seen so much press on a hostage taken in Iraq. Inevitably, Jill and her reporting have been romanticized. I, like Jill, prefer to think that it is not Jill that people admire, so much as the integrity of international journalism, which she has come to represent, and which she described to aspiring foreign correspondents:
"Journalism is a duty and a noble cause, and...the only way to fulfill that noble cause, and to perform that duty is by living there...and talking to people everyday, understand them more as individuals, not as a group. ...That kind of motivation will get you through the times when you are making no money, when you are in danger, when you are afraid. All of that will be okay if you do it because you really love what you are doing, and you feel you have a broader purpose."
Jill was denied family, friends, movement, windows, books and her range of thought, which was reduced to scheming for survival. Jill’s kidnapping and Alan’s murder were tragedies. In classical tragedy a hero’s suffering, though brought on by his own actions, is not meaningless. Only Jill herself can say what she learned and whether strength of character is what pulled her through. But young Americans seem to have learned something. They have learned to equate solid international reporting with studying the language of the people of the country in which one works; living in the region and participating in the culture; seeking points of view that are difficult and dangerous to discover; and developing an abiding respect for the people about whom one reports.
Many journalists of integrity and strength of character from around the world put themselves in harm’s way every day to report fully and truthfully. I think here of Jill’s translator and friend Alan Enwiya. Thankfully, most of these courageous journalists are not kidnapped or murdered. But most never achieve the wide recognition that Jill has for the good and important work that they are doing. Let us think of them tonight. I would like to accept this award for courage in journalism on their behalf.