Is James Foley’s death the end of frontline reporting?

Janine di Giovanni writes: Like many families of those who simply disappear and go missing, James Foley’s were no different. They believed that one day their son, who had gone missing before Thanksgiving 2012 in Syria, would walk through the door.

Jim was smart. Jim was brave. Jim was a good guy. Because of these traits, his family and his closest friends held out hope and refused to believe he was really gone.

Nicole Tung, who had been with Foley just before he was kidnapped and returned several times alone to northern Syria to search for her friend, was not giving up hope. Sometimes, while working in Aleppo, she would disappear to meet with someone to try to find out if her friend was being held in certain prisons, if he was safe, if he was still alive.

President Barack Obama paid tribute to Foley at a press conference today, describing him as someone who “courageously told the story of his fellow human beings.”

In times like these, journalists—particularly those who report war and conflict and are something of a little tribe—tend to grow even closer. Decisions are made not to report details which could hurt the search for missing reporter. Decisions are made not to watch the video which claimed to be Foley’s last.

The day after the video was released was a dark day for journalists. Foley, who had been kidnapped before, was much loved and respected. His death, like the death of other reporters before him—such as the American Marie Colvin, who died from a bomb blast in Homs in February 2012; or the legendary Reuters war reporter Kurt Schork, who was murdered by Sierra Leonean rebels in 2000, resonated widely. It shakes the very core of what we do and what we believe.

On a private Facebook page for those of us who work and report inside Syria, S-Logistics, the tributes were swift and eloquent. Reporters blacked out their profile photos in solidarity with our slain colleague. But the real question many of us are wondering is: how do we continue to do this kind of work when barbarians like the Islamic State reward us with kidnappings, beheadings, imprisonment, rape? [Continue reading…]

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