Foley Reminds Us: At-Risk Journalists Don’t Always Make the Front Page

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The death of James Foley brings renewed attention to an old battle waging ad perpetuum: free speech and coverage risks for journalists worldwide. If you follow the news in Syria, you’ve likely benefited from Foley’s reporting contributions, but his name likely went unnoticed for most reading the news. After he was taken hostage for the first time, returned, and then taken the second time, a few more would have been following his story perhaps.

But until recently, many people hadn’t heard of Foley. Now his story is one the world is hyper aware of, as it has become embroiled in U.S. international policy, airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and militant activity in the Middle East.

In life he acted as the eyes and ears of the world in incredibly dangerous and dark places. His death drew the eyes and ears of the world to him in turn, but for now let’s borrow those eyes for a moment and shed light on other freedom of speech issues — more worthwhile a subject matter than the gruesome and inhumane actions of ISIL in taking Foley’s life, already being rehashed across the Internet.