WASHINGTON—The Newseum honored 14 journalists on June 8 for their courage while reporting under hostile conditions, representing all journalists who died in 2014.
Family members and friends of the fallen attended the museum’s annual Journalists Memorial, which recognizes the risks journalists face in getting the news.
“It has been a brutal time for journalists worldwide. Numbers vary, but according to most international media organizations, more than 80 journalists were killed last year,” said Kathy Gannon, an award-winning Associated Press correspondent who was shot at by an Afghan police officer in April of last year while in a car. Her colleague Anja Niedringhaus died in the attack.
Gannon was the recent recipient of the 2014 James Foley Medal for Courage in Journalism awarded by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
After her speech Gannon hugged friends, some were teary-eyed.
John Foley, father of the late James Foley, honored his son and all journalists killed last year.
In his last letter addressed to his family in captivity, James wrote: “I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.”
Islamic State militants beheaded him in August.
“He left his mark as a wonderful human being,” Foley said. “He defended our right to know.”
Islamic State militants also murdered journalist Steven Sotloff in 2014.
While crossing into Syria from Turkey, Sotloff was abducted by the Islamic State in 2013. He was killed in September, the execution videotaped and released online.
Sotloff’s mother Shirley, accompanied by her husband Arthur, read her son’s handwritten words aloud. The words were also written while Sotloff was taken hostage: “Everyone has two lives. The second one begins when you realize you only have one.”
The 2Lives foundation was created in honor of Sotloff to “support aspiring young journalists,” according to his mother.
Shirley said Sotloff’s dedication to the Newseum’s Journalists Memorial held a special place in the their hearts.
Peter Prichard, chairman and chief executive officer of the Newseum, said that attention should be placed on why the journalists passed instead of how they passed.
“It’s certainly right and just that we pause today in our busy lives to remember what these journalists did and why they did it,” Prichard said. “And it’s also right that we should recognize and honor the family members who have lost their loved ones for what is, in the end, a noble cause.”
A hashtag –#WithoutNews –accompanied Monday’s event, urging news consumers to think about the threats experienced by journalists as they report.
The hashtag also asked individuals to envision a world without news.