A Mother Speaks Out: Q&A with Julia Hicks

A Mother Speaks Out: Q&A with Julia Hicks

RAS LANUF, LIBYA - MARCH 10:   Photojournalist...
Photo journalists including Tyler Hicks scramble to capture moments of turmoil in Libya. | Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In late March, Tyler Hicks ’88 and Lynsey Addario ’91 were kidnapped in Libya while photographing the Libyan turmoil for the New York Times. As reported by Hicks and Addario in a Times article, both were detained for six days by captors who threatened each and every day to rape or kill them:

“‘You have a beautiful head,’” [a soldier] told Tyler in a mix of English and Arabic. ‘I’m going to remove it and put it on mine. I’m going to cut it off.’ Tyler, feeling queasy, asked to sit down.

We were finally put in a pickup where a soldier taunted Lynsey.

‘You might die tonight,’ he told her, as he ran his hand over her face. ‘Maybe, maybe not,’” the article read.

Libyan officials eventually freed Hicks and Addario along with two other colleagues. They were released into the custody of the Turkish embassy, and later sent to Tunisia. They are now in the U.S.

In addition to the effects the imprisonment had on Addario and Hicks, Addario expressed the toll their career takes on their respective families on an NPR “Morning Edition” segment.

“I think the hardest part of this job is what you do to the people who love you. When something like this happens to me, I can get through it. But it’s traumatic for my parents, for my husband, for my sisters,” Addario said.

Hicks’ mother, Julia Hicks of Westport, was willing to answer some questions for Inklings:

What was going through your mind when you heard of the news and saw all those headlines?

That’s just the sort of thing that’s pretty obvious—tremendous concern and feeling confident that Tyler is tough and an experienced journalist. I was just hoping that his experience in the field had given him whatever he needed to get him through this situation.

As a teenager, was Tyler a risk taker?

No. He’s just always been interested in photography having to do with the news with world events and doing newspaper work. He’s just developed through the years and made it his goal and focus when he was in college and trained to be a photojournalist. It’s a lot of gaining experience with a lot of patience, but step by step he’s managed to do what he’s been dreaming to do.

Have you talked to Tyler?

Only very briefly

Do you think this incident will pose as deterrence to his future in journalism?

Probably not. I can’t answer for him, but I wouldn’t think that this would change his path.

Have you ever advised Tyler to maybe go in a different direction career-wise?

I think that it is impossible to keep someone from doing what they’ve chosen to do as a career, although it’s very dangerous, and it makes me very concerned as a mother. I can only be happy for him as a mother that he’s doing what he loves and is skilled at doing. He’s very good at it and seems to be in the right place for himself. Even though it’s dangerous work, he has confidence that he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a risk taker. I think that in this field where there are so many dangers, that journalists have to be very careful and knowledgeable about avoiding the risks, and to have a handle on situations and not be reckless or they wouldn’t be left very long in that particular field.

Through friends, the Addario family has declined to comment about the ordeal at this time. Inklings is in the process of contacting both Hicks and Addario, and hopes to expand on their experiences.