James W. Foley Legacy Foundation and Facebook Launch Digital Security Course as Part of Journalist Safety Guide

Ellen Shearer, 202-661- 0102, shearer@northwestern.edu or
Thomas Durkin, 708-691- 4928, tom.durkin@jamesfoleyfoundation.org


ROCHESTER, N.H. – The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation today announced the addition of a new digital security seminar to its Journalist Safety Guide for aspiring journalists to address methods and tools they can utilize to keep themselves and their data safe online. In 2014, the Foundation’s namesake, conflict journalist James Foley, was the first American murdered by the Islamic State following two years of imprisonment. Part of the organization’s mission is to improve the safety and treatment of independent freelance conflict journalists. In line with that goal, and in collaboration with several partner organizations, the Foundation developed a curriculum guide in 2016 for college journalism and communications instructors. The curriculum is intended to challenge aspiring journalists to focus on how to protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous world and to provide insight into what their colleagues are experiencing.

The section added today on digital security was developed by Jingnan Huo, a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, in collaboration with Facebook; Ellen Shearer, Northwestern professor of journalism and executive editor for Medill’s Washington program; and Tom Durkin, director of programs for the Foley Foundation.

“Dangers to journalists covering local or national news can come unexpectedly in the digital sphere and too often journalists are unaware of how to plan for their online safety,” Shearer said. “This new material offers ways for aspiring journalists to be prepared.”

The latest information includes expertise and guidance from the journalism partnerships and safety teams at Facebook in conjunction with the Foley Foundation, along with resources from the Facebook Safety for Journalists initiative launched last summer.

“The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation has done excellent work in teaching journalism students how to stay safe on the Internet,” said Catherine Cole of Facebook News Partnerships. “The Facebook Journalism Project is proud to continue to support its efforts on journalist safety.”

Diane Foley, mother of James and president of the Foundation, said her son would be “deeply grateful for others to learn from his sacrifice. The James W. Foley Journalist Safety Guide continues Jim’s passion for press freedom with the vital tools of risk assessment and safety education for any aspiring young journalist or humanitarian interested in serving in dangerous situations.”

The guide is organized around a series of seminars to be conducted by journalism instructors. The first uses the Sundance and Emmy award-winning documentary, “Jim: The James Foley Story,” to introduce students to the world of conflict coverage. The next two seminars use research and case studies provided by seasoned journalists to enable students to assess the steps they should take before embarking on potentially dangerous reporting. Role-play is used to reinforce the assessment rubric. The fourth seminar addresses dangers that can happen at home or abroad in covering civil unrest from protests to mob scenes.

The entire guide can be found at https://www.jamesfoleyfoundation.org/overview-of- curriculum/. Other related and helpful information is available at www.acosalliance.org, www.nationalsecurityzone.org, and https://rsf.org/en. To access the curriculum, please contact Tom Durkin @ tom.durkin@jamesfoleyfoundation.org.