Don’t forget him

Images of James Foley’s brutal death will serve to keep his memory alive

I can’t stop thinking about James Foley, the freelance journalist killed by ISIS. It’s been about a week since the extremist group released footage of his beheading. I’ve struggled for days to wrap my mind around his tragic and brutal death. I’m still at a loss.

Most newspapers and TV outlets around the country have run stories accompanied by photographs or video of Foley and his executioner in the minutes before the murder—the journalist clothed in some sort of orange frock and his hooded captor draped in black. CNN made a big to-do about how it was not showing any of the video on TV or online. The network did, however, air still photos from the video taken several minutes before the execution, as well as audio of his captor’s voice.

The New York Post, though, has been roundly criticized for running on its front page a picture of the jihadist holding a blade to Foley’s throat. The headline: SAVAGES! A description I agree with entirely. While I’m unnerved by all of the photos and the video, and I’m probably in the minority here, I don’t disagree with the Post’s decision to run the photo.

Foley died in a most horrific manner and I think showing the knife touching his neck drives that point home. In this day and age, his murder would otherwise be quickly forgotten. A few days ago, I tried to bring myself to watch the full video. I’d read that Foley’s parents had seen it, and I reasoned that, as a journalist, getting a full scope of what happened there required me to see it, too. I couldn’t do it. What I’ve imagined is bad enough. That’s my rationalization at this point.

Foley is survived by a loving family, his parents and four siblings. Then there’s a whole world of reporters, myself included, who admire the grit it took to be a correspondent in one of the most dangerous regions on the planet. We won’t forget him.

Speaking of stand-out reporters, Kjerstin Wood, a former CN&R intern, is about to graduate from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Foley’s alma mater. Wood applied for our internship back in 2012, and what impressed me most about her wasn’t her newspaper experience but rather her life experience, which includes putting herself through Chico State’s undergraduate program in 3 1/2 years.

Wood’s a smart and eager journalist. I look forward to watching her career develop in the coming years.

We’re on the hunt for new interns this semester, so students with college-level reporting experience who are looking to secure some clips—you know, the kind that can help you get into Northwestern—should check out our ad for more info on CN&R’s semester-long program.

For those who don’t yet have the experience to qualify for our program, a good starting place would be to sign up for journalism classes at Chico State or Butte College. I happen to know that there are spaces open in CN&R News Editor Tom Gascoyne’s newspaper production class at Butte.