The James W. Foley Journalist Safety Guide

A Curriculum Plan for College Journalism and Communications Instructors


The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation and the Medill School of Journalism, through its National Security Journalism Initiative, have partnered with the Facebook Journalism Project, Reporters Without Borders and A Culture of Safety alliance to offer journalism and communications students the opportunity to learn about the issues involved with the growing risk of reporting in dangerous situations – from conflicts, terrorism and violent unrest to digital surveillance of journalists to covering drug cartels, unstable regimes or organized crime around the world. Aspiring journalists must know how to prepare for such assignments and respond to danger if they choose this important yet challenging journalism career path.

Our organizations have created a curriculum guide for undergraduate and graduate students called The James W. Foley Journalist Safety Guide, which is intended to help educators teach these important concepts to students. The foundational seminar uses a documentary –“Jim: The James Foley Story” – to lead students into the world of conflict coverage. The other seminars use research, interviews with veteran foreign correspondents and case studies to help students learn how to think through the assessments they should take before embarking on potentially dangerous reporting and then uses role-play to reinforce the assessment rubric.

We have created lesson plans for one four-hour session (which could be cut to three hours) and four three-hour sessions. Instructors can use all the seminars or select among them, although if only using one we strongly recommend that it be the first seminar lesson plan so students view the Foley documentary, which is approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes. The three-hour sessions also can be adapted to create longer or shorter sessions.

These seminars can be a module in undergraduate or graduate seminars or reporting classes. They are particularly appropriate for an advanced reporting seminar or class, a foreign correspondence seminar, an investigative class or a global affairs seminar.

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