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Civil unrest safety training added to journalist safety guide

Medill professor expands guide for James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, Facebook

EVANSTON - The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is expanding its James W. Foley Guide on Journalists’ Safety by adding a fourth seminar on the risks of reporting on conflicts, terrorism and violent unrest.

The fourth seminar of the curriculum guide, which was created by a professor and graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, will be released Thursday, Aug. 10 (today) at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Seminar 4: Risks to Consider in Covering Civil Unrest” addresses dangers that can happen at home or abroad when covering situations of civil unrest, ranging from protests to mob scenes. The seminar was developed by Ellen Shearer, the William F. Thomas Professor of Journalism, Medill News Service bureau chief and co-director of the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative and Foley Foundation board member; Tom Durkin, director of programs for the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation; and Medill graduate student Shazeb Hasim.

“Dangers to journalists covering local or national news can come unexpectedly, and too often, the journalists are unaware of how to plan for their safety in covering incidents such as violent protests,” Shearer said. “With the help of Medill graduate students and some great journalists, our latest seminar offers ways for aspiring journalists to prepare.”

The Foundation also will announce its partnership with Facebook to create a new seminar focused on cybersecurity for journalists. This seminar, created under the direction of Shearer and Durkin, will once again offer research opportunities for Medill students. It also will include expertise and guidance from the journalism partnerships and safety teams at Facebook in conjunction with the Foundation, along with resources from the Facebook Safety for Journalists initiative launched earlier this summer. 

“As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are committed to helping journalists stay safe and protecting their sources on our platform,” said Aine Kerr, manager of journalism partnerships at Facebook. “We look forward to continuing our work with the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation to provide more resources, like this upcoming seminar, to help ensure that journalists feel safe on our platform." 

James Foley, a journalist who earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism, was the first American journalist murdered by the Islamic State following two years of imprisonment.

Diane Foley said her son, whom she calls Jim, would be “deeply grateful for others to learn from his sacrifice.”

“The James W. Foley Guide on Journalists’ Safety 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,” she said. 

The original three-part curriculum, launched in 2016, was created by Shearer in collaboration with Medill students Ryan Holmes, Satvika Khera, Jacob Mleschke and Xuanyan Ouyang; Delphine Halgand of Reporters Without Borders; Emma Beals and David Rohde of A Culture of Safety Alliance; and Diane Foley of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

The seminars are intended to challenge aspiring journalists to protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous world and to inform other future journalists, so they understand what their colleagues are experiencing. The first seminar 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 let students think through the assessments they should make before embarking on potentially dangerous reporting.

The entire guide can be found on the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation website. Other related and helpful information is available through ACOS Alliance, Medill National Security Zone and Reporters Sans Frontiers.

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