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Journalist and former UK faculty member Terry Anderson has died at 76

Terry Anderson poses for a portrait. Photo by UK Communication and Information College.

Terry Anderson, a long-time journalist and former University of Kentucky faculty member, has died at 76 years old.

Anderson was an Associated Press correspondent who traveled the world in the name of journalism. He was the longest-held Western hostage after being captured in the streets of Lebanon in 1985, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“He was always the skeptic that you want a good journalist to be,” said Al Cross, a UK journalism professor and director emeritus of the Institute of Rural Journalism. “He took few things at face value and yet he was very good natured like any excellent journalist. He was able to relate to people in all walks of life in any situation.”

On March 16, 1985, Anderson was abducted by Islamic militants and held hostage for six-and-a-half years, according to AP. During his time in captivity, he was beaten, threatened with death and placed in solitary confinement for “long periods of time.”

Anderson released his best-selling memoir, “Den of Lions,” in 1993, which detailed his time in captivity.

Eighteen years after his release from captivity, Anderson joined the faculty at UK’s School of Journalism and Media when he and his wife moved to Lexington in 2009.

Cross said he was thrilled when he heard Anderson was going to be joining their faculty and said Anderson taught courses within the school in which one summer he took a group of students to cities in the Middle East, including Jerusalem, Beirut and Damascus.

“Imagine that. Being an undergraduate and having the former AP correspondent for the middle east, who lived in Beirut, taking you to those three cities,” Cross said. “It must’ve been an amazing experience for those students.”

He also said the two of them wrote a story together on how state police were “very stingy” with records and most recently were involved in the Program of the National Newspaper Association convention in San Francisco in 2023.

At the convention, Cross said Anderson and his friends had the idea to create an essay contest to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

According to one of Anderson’s Pike County Courier articles, this idea became a reality on Feb. 12, 2023, where he published the contest as a “Letter to the Editor” with the future of America’s Declaration of Independence in mind.

After graduating from highschool, according to AP, Anderson joined the Marines in lieu of attending the University of Michigan. Cross added that Anderson spent his time as a combat journalist.

“Terry was a patriot…” Cross said. “He really believed in what this country is supposed to stand for and he advocated this idea, and I’m hoping that somehow the idea can be continued and that we can have that contest.”

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