Yesterday the Islamic terrorist group ISIS released a video showing American journalist James Foley being brutally executed in Iraq.
I had the great opportunity to meet him in 2011, when he came to speak at his alma mater, Marquette University, after having been held hostage by Gaddafi loyalists in Libya for 45 days.
In the short time I led him around to do media interviews, I found him kind, warm and extremely engaged with the Communications students he was meeting with. He had a sense of humor and was handsome too.
During a moderated conversation with a Communications student, he was asked the question so many war correspondents are asked – Why? Why put yourself in danger, repeatedly? His answer over the years has echoed in my head whenever I see reporters in dangerous territory. Most recently, the statement came back last week as I was watching the Ferguson protests. It was so simple: Because we have to tell the truth. People have to know the truth.
This is the day and age of “citizen journalists.” Anyone with a smart phone can report from the front lines. But those dispatches aren’t confirmed, they’re less than accurate, and they only give us fleeting glimpses into the horror of what’s going on.
Trained journalists, men and women like Foley and his colleagues, really do put themselves on the line so the rest of us know the truth, behind the front lines, and behind the headlines.
“The world and America needs to know the reality,” Foley said in his interview with Marquette student Jordan Abudayyeh. “That there are people behind the things that happen on both sides, and their effects. We can’t just show fireworks and how things blow up. We have to show the effects on families.
I went to college to become a journalist. Through a series of twists and turns I’ve settled in Public Relations, but that’s not the point today. As a citizen of the world, I, along with every one of you, owe a debt of gratitude to the James Foley, Daniel Pearls, and other journalists who have risked it all to bring us the truth.
Kate Venne received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science in 1998 from Winona State University.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.