In Response to the Death of James Foley

War reporting is one of the noblest and most dangerous kinds of journalism. James Foley, the New Hampshire native barbarically murdered this week, was dedicated to the craft.

The New England First Amendment Coalition salutes James Foley’s work and that of others who carry on this most risky pursuit. We send our condolences to the entire Foley family and to Boston-based GlobalPost, the acclaimed international news provider in whose service James Foley gave his life.

Foley’s murder is the latest of a string of tragedies that have brought home to New England the costs and perils of international terrorism. Let no one be mistaken, however, about its impact. Those who believe that James Foley’s execution will silence the voice of American journalists, or shake the American people’s commitment to freedom of the press, will find themselves sadly, and profoundly, disappointed.

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. 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.

Anytime a civilian is killed for political purposes, it is an act of terrorism. When that civilian is a journalist, it is also an attack on the freedom of information and discourse that underpins our democratic society. It is an assault on our ability to educate, to learn and to enrich our lives and the lives of others. It is an attempt to intimidate. It is a rebuke of our innate need to bear witness and to communicate information. It is an attempt to thwart our search for truth.

To the parents and family of James Foley: James exemplified the spirit of his profession and the values upon which our Coalition is founded. His willingness to put his life in danger for the sake of informing the world about the nuanced realities of war will inspire all of us for generations to come. In the midst of your grief, please know that James’s memory lives on among the legions of journalists who will continue his life’s work.

To those responsible for the death of James Foley, know that you succeeded only in further uniting and inspiring journalists worldwide. At the New England First Amendment Coalition, our commitment to arming journalists with the tools to report stories of local and international interest is strengthened by your actions. Foley’s death will be answered by other journalists willing to tell the stories that you would rather not be told. You have bolstered our resolve. Our mission has never been more clear.

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.