NEFAC to Honor Slain Journalist James Foley with Annual Freedom of Information Award


CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

Foley Photo by Nicole Tung

Photo by Nicole Tung

A seasoned war correspondent, New Hampshire native James Foley committed himself to the truth and, in his words, “exposing untold stories.” While working in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Foley reported on the lives of those disadvantaged and suffering. His barbaric death last August reminded the nation of the dangers of his craft and the threats against freedom of information.

The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor Foley with its 2015 Freedom of Information Award. The award is given to a New England journalist whose work protects or advances the public’s right to know under state or federal law. The FOI Award will be presented during NEFAC’s annual luncheon on Feb. 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel, 1 Seaport Lane in Boston. Tickets can be purchased here.

“Foley reported difficult stories and wrote about those most effected by war, despite the incredible risks to his safety,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Ultimately, he made the greatest sacrifice in pursuit of these stories and we are honored to have the opportunity to recognize Foley’s life work. It certainly reflects the principles of the First Amendment and the importance of an informed public.”

Foley spent much of his time writing for Boston-based GlobalPost, reporting from war-torn countries in the Middle East. According to the James W. Foley Legacy Fund website, “By becoming a conflict journalist, Jim was able to merge his interest in writing with his compassion for the poor, disadvantaged and suffering amid conflict.”

In 2011, Foley was detained by Colonel Gadaffi’s Libyan regime for 44 days before being released. In January 2012, an undeterred Foley began reporting from Syria. He was kidnapped that November and was murdered by ISIS in August 2014. The brutal and public nature of his execution generated an outpouring of support for journalists working in battle zones.

“With the death of Foley — who hailed from Rochester, New Hampshire, studied at the University of Massachusetts and freelanced for GlobalPost — we lost one of our own, and not only because of his New England roots,” wrote NEFAC’s Board of Directors in a statement following Foley’s death last year. “James Foley was a truth-seeker. Like most in his profession, he was driven to his work by a commitment to seek out and report information and, in his words, to ‘expose untold stories.’ His dauntless reporting enabled the rest of us to derive insight and understanding about those with backgrounds and experiences very different from our own.”

Foley’s family will attend the luncheon next month to accept the award on behalf of James. During the event, the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award and Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award will also be presented. Retired judge Nancy Gertner will receive the Hamblett Award while nominations for the Orfield Award are still being solicited. The deadline for nominations is February 1.

New England First Amendment Awards Luncheon

February 20, 2015 | 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Seaport Hotel | 1 Seaport Lane | Boston, Mass.

Purchase Tickets

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.