January 2006: On assignment in Baghdad, Christian Science Monitor freelancer Jill Carroll disappears in a bloody abduction that leaves her translator dead.
Carroll coverage is a constant hum in the national media during her 82 days in captivity. Her release, in the words of one Monitor editor, sparks an "emotional lovefest." The 11-part Jill Carroll Story becomes the Monitor's most popular and profitable series ever. Then the reluctant headliner nabs an international award for courage and a $30,000 Harvard fellowship reserved for "distinguished experts" in media.
After a stint in Cairo, Carroll has dropped war reporting for a new line of fire. In August the 31-year-old started training as a firefighter in Fairfax, Va. Carroll declined to be interviewed about the switch, but apparently second careers are common at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. "We have military officers, attorneys and a chiropractor," said spokesperson Lt. Raul Castillo. And at $47,472, the pay beats the average newspaper salary by more than two grand.