What My Fellowship with the Foley Foundation Means to Me

Annie Lin

By Annie Lin

Medill/Foley fellow for summer/fall 2020

Words can’t begin to express the gratitude and honor I have felt during my time as a fellow of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. It was James W. Foley’s moral courage and bravery as an American freelance journalist that inspired me to apply for the position. It was Jim’s legacy and the foundation’s mission to advocate for the freedom of all Americans held hostage abroad and promote the safety of journalists worldwide that have given me a sense of direction in these uncertain times.

As a journalist, I have immense respect for fellow reporters, like Jim, who have risked their lives to bring us important news and sacrificed their freedoms for us. His respect for each person regardless of cultural background has empowered so many and inspired others to follow in his footsteps; I share his compassion to give a voice to marginalized groups. While I never knew Jim myself, the strength he showed throughout his life has deeply impacted my pursuit of journalism and pushed me to become a better storyteller. And to be selected as a Foley fellow in partnership with Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Jim’s alma mater, I feel even greater comradery with him.

Throughout my six month fellowship at the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, I have learned what it really means to “inspire moral courage, one person at a time.” I might only be one individual, but I firmly believe each person is capable of making a difference. Each day, as I track news articles on hostage cases or issues impacting journalist safety, I’m glad to keep the foundation updated on critical issues that are constantly evolving. I also help manage social media accounts across multiple platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Shutterfly – with a combined reach of nearly 50,000 people. I manage updates to the foundation’s website and design original graphics. The task I enjoy most is being part of critical discussions about advancing hostage advocacy, protecting journalists and emphasizing the need for freedom of the press – I believe these conversations are more important than ever.

As a fellow, I have had the pleasure of attending numerous virtual workshops hosted by the foundation and international conferences discussing human rights, media freedom, journalist safety, newsroom diversity and more. It is during those events that I witness the full impact of our work. In helping to organize events like the foundation’s Moral Courage in Challenging Times and the annual James W. Foley Freedom Run, and seeing thousands of participants worldwide come together to champion our mission and honor Jim’s legacy, I feel incredibly thankful have been a part of it.

I have been honored to work alongside a team that is so incredibly passionate about what they do. Their energy and uplifting attitude have greatly influenced my work. I would also like to highlight the tireless efforts of our president and founder, Diane Foley, who has been a source of support, encouragement, and inspiration throughout my role.

As my fellowship comes to a close, I have tremendous appreciation and gratitude for the foundation and everyone on staff, on the board, and the foundation’s supporters, who each make all of this possible. This work has given me more fulfillment than I could possibly have imagined. I would like to thank my alma mater Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, and the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation for offering this fellowship opportunity to student journalists like myself. I look forward to seeing the incoming fellows continue Jim’s legacy through their work with the foundation and their pursuit of the powerful journalism he believed in.