Author Topic: In Fear and Violence, Slain U.S. Journalist Found Humanity  (Read 3145 times)

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Offline Riney

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In Fear and Violence, Slain U.S. Journalist Found Humanity
« on: August 21, 2014, 15:25:13 PM »
In Fear and Violence, Slain U.S. Journalist Found Humanity
American Journalist James Foley Knew Risks of Covering Global Conflict

By Jennifer Levitz and Jon Kamp
August 20 2014
The Washington Post

American journalist James Foley wears a helmet and body armor in a photo taken while he was covering the war in Aleppo, Syria, in November 2012. Associated Press

ROCHESTER, N.H.—In conflict zones sewn through with fear and violence, American journalist James Foley said he found inspiration.

"There is an amazing reach for humanity in these places, in these barren places," he said in a 2011 speech.
Mr. Foley, whose beheading at the hands of Islamic State militants was confirmed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, believed he had a calling to tell the stories of people he saw as voiceless and powerless, friends and family said.

(James Foley: U.S. tried to rescue American journalist James Foley from Islamic State captors in Syria).

He knew the risks. He spent 44 days in captivity in Libya in 2011 after being abducted while reporting on the front lines of the conflict there. But the ordeal didn't deter him from traveling to Syria the next year to cover the war. He was captured by militants there in November 2012. The Islamic State said it killed Mr. Foley as retribution for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

James Foley's death highlights the danger for journalists working in repressive countries such as Syria and Iraq. WSJ's video editor Mark Scheffler and Reporters Without Borders U.S. director Delphine Halgand discuss James Foley and the dangers of war reporting on the News Hub with Sara Murray.

In Rochester, a city about an hour north of Boston in New Hampshire's seacoast region where Mr. Foley's parents, John and Diane live, family and community members were struggling to grasp the news after nearly two years of hoping for his return. Outside his family's white colonial house on Wednesday, a large yellow ribbon was still tied to a tree.

"He was as much a humanitarian as he was a journalist," John Foley told reporters outside their home. He broke down crying as he noted that on a video of the death released Tuesday, his son said he wished he had more time to see his family. Mr. Foley was the oldest of five siblings.

Mr. Foley's family received an email last week from the militants holding him captive that they planned to execute him, said Philip Balboni, the president and chief executive of GlobalPost, an online news site Mr Foley worked for. "It was full of rage against the U.S. for the bombings in Iraq," Mr. Balboni said Wednesday.

Unlike past emails to the family, the one last week didn't contain demands and had a much harsher tone, he said. The Foley family wrote back to the militants trying to convince them to continue to negotiate for Mr. Foley's release, Mr. Balboni said.

"The family did appeal to them to show mercy and said that Jim was an innocent journalist and had never harmed the Syrian people and cared deeply about them," he said. He said the family received no reply to their plea.
Mr. Foley, 40 years old, was a latecomer to journalism. He graduated from Marquette University in 1996 with a major in history, the university said.

After college, he taught inner-city students through the Teach for America program in Phoenix and later instructed inmates at the Cook County Sheriff's boot camp in Chicago, according to a 2013 Columbia Journalism Review article about Mr. Foley.

In his mid-30s, he decided to change careers. Conflict-reporting courses he took in at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism capitvated him, Mr. Foley said in a speech at Northwestern in 2011. But he was also drawn to reporting in war-torn countries because of his brother, who served in the military in Iraq in 2007. He recalled feeling frustrated and disconnected while watching conflicts from afar.

"That's part of the problem with these conflicts. We're not close enough to it," he said in his speech. "If we don't try to get really close to what these guys—men, women, Americans, and now, with this Arab Revolution, young Arab men, Young Egyptians and Libyans—are experiencing, you don't understand the world, essentially."

Diane and John Foley talk to reporters outside their home in Rochester, N.H., after speaking with President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Associated Press

After graduation, he went to Iraq as a reporter embedded with the Indiana National Guard, and then went to work as a freelance journalist, reporting in conflict zones for several outlets including GlobalPost.

In Libya in 2011, he relished the chance to report more freely on the ground without the restrictions of being an embedded reporter.

Mr. Foley's commitment to his work was informed by his faith, friends said. He came from a deeply Roman Catholic family and saying the rosary and praying with a fellow hostage, Clare Morgana Gillis, helped him get though is captivity in Libya. "Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone," Mr. Foley wrote in the Marquette alumni magazine.

Ms. Gillis, a freelance journalist, said Mr. Foley boosted her spirits. "When we were detained in Tripoli, Jim automatically turned his energies to keeping up our strength and hope," she wrote in an essay on online news site Syria Deeply in May 2013.

Neighbors knew Mr. Foley was missing after being captured in Syria in 2012 and said they attended occasional prayer vigils at the family's Catholic church. They were shocked to hear of his death.

"He had come back before," said Bobbi Ketcham, a neighbor of the Foley family for 12 years. The 55-year-old substitute teacher attended the vigils, and for a while, had a yellow ribbon in her own yard.

Standing in her kitchen on Wednesday, she noted a "Free James Foley" magnetic clip on her refrigerator. "It's kind of a sad moment, but I guess I should take this down," she said, placing it on her kitchen island.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2014, 15:28:42 PM by Riney »
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear