A Changed Perspective and Renewed Passion: My Internship at the Foley Foundation

Audrey Thibert

By Audrey Thibert

Foley Fellow, journalism major at the University of Wisconsin and the daughter of one Jim’s close friends.

When I met Jim, he told me to “always keep writing.” I listened. 

Now as a senior in college, I’m majoring in journalism, writing for local newspapers and traveling overseas to report on migration. While I love reporting, my summer internship at the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation provided me with a new perspective on journalism and journalist safety. In short, I learned that protecting the ability to “always keep writing” requires hard and continuous work.

Contributing to the important work of ensuring physical and mental safety for student journalists and professional journalists was extremely educational for me. I felt empowered by the incredibly inclusive and trusting staff to use my own experiences working at an independent newspaper to shape the work I did — work I hope can help other student journalists in the future.

I learned to think of journalist safety as multifaceted. In creating a safety guide for independent student news organizations, I saw that safety intersects with social media, law, community and inclusion. By researching opportunities to expand the reach of the JWFLF Safety Modules, I saw the importance of institutional support to student journalists. In meeting with retired journalists like Head Set co-founder Kate Parkinson, I saw how mental health is just as — if not more — important as physical health.  And by organizing the Team Madison Foley Freedom 5K, I saw the overwhelming support that local journalists have for safety, and for preserving Jim’s legacy.

I’m happy that although my summer internship is over, my work at the JWFLF is not done. This summer, I was able to organize the second annual Team Madison Foley Freedom 5K, part of the annual nationwide 5K in remembrance of Jim and other Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. The Madison run will take place October 21 at 10 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Capitol. To register for or donate to Team Madison, click here. Everyone is welcome.

(Editor’s Note: The James W. Foley Freedom Run is a traditional 5K Run/Walk held at the James W. Foley Community Center in Rochester, NH, at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC, and a “Virtual” Run/Walk, bringing the event to a national and worldwide audience.)

Ultimately, I walk away from this summer internship certain I will use what I learned as I continue my work as a student journalist, and as I move into the professional sphere of foreign correspondence. I am honored to have had the privilege of working to preserve and highlight Jim’s legacy. Those close to me know my deep admiration for Jim’s fearless and moral approach to journalism — an approach I hope I can mirror in my own work. I am extremely proud of what we accomplished this summer and the overall mission of the Foundation to advocate for journalist safety.