New Foley Foundation Resources Address Risks for Photojournalists and How to Survive Kidnapping

In Honor of World Press Freedom Day

WASHINGTON, DC – To mark World Press Freedom Day, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation has updated its journalist safety curricula with new resources addressing risks faced by photojournalists and reflections on how to cope with captivity.

A new module, “Photojournalism: Staying Safe,” addresses the particular risks faced by photojournalists in the field because of their visibility using filming and photography equipment.

Another new module, “Wrongful Detention, Kidnapping, and Hostage Survival,” was developed in partnership with Caitlan Coleman, who was held hostage by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2012-2017. It includes strategies and personal resources to help individuals cope with and survive the terrifying experience of being held hostage.

Caitlan Coleman

“We’re honored to partner with Caitlan Coleman, who has bravely shared her experiences from captivity to help others stay safe,” said Margaux Ewen, the foundation’s executive director. “We hope aspiring journalists can learn from Caitlan’s strength and resilience in facing the horrifying circumstances of a hostage-taking.”  

The new resources add to 14 existing modules addressing risk assessments, responsibilities of newsroom managers, safety of female and minority journalists, covering civil unrest, emotional self-care, care of sources, interviewing hostile sources, understanding journalists’ rights, the importance of diversity in newsrooms, reporting on foreign conflicts, protecting digital data, dealing with online harassment, covering weather-related stories, and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each module is designed for easy integration into existing journalism and communications courses.

“We want to continue to help educators create a culture that reinforces the importance of preventive safety while making sure students are up to date on threats they may face in the field,” said Tom Durkin, the foundation’s education program director who developed the safety modules. “As safety risks continue to evolve, we hope these new resources will ensure the broadest possible protection for the next generation of journalists.”

The James W. Foley Journalism Safety Modules were developed in collaboration with Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication, the alma mater of James Foley, a freelance journalist who was killed by ISIS in 2014 while covering the Syrian conflict. The foundation received generous support from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation to launch the modules last year. They serve as the undergraduate companion to the James W. Foley Journalist Safety Guide, a graduate-level curriculum created by Ellen Shearer, Foley Foundation board member and Washington bureau chief for Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, in collaboration with Reporters Without Borders. 

In addition to Marquette and Northwestern, other universities already implementing or expressing interest in the modules include New York University, University of Missouri, University of Oklahoma, University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas, American University, Arizona State University, West Virginia University, University of New Hampshire, Weber State University, Quinnipiac University, the University of Central Missouri, and the University of Southern California.

The Foley Foundation has also partnered with the Samir Kassir Foundation’s SKeyes Center in Lebanon to produce an Arabic version of the modules, which will be available soon.

The foundation is also working to adapt its graduate and undergraduate curricula in an effort to reach freelance journalists in the field in need of preventive safety resources.

Both the James W. Foley Journalism Safety Modules and the James W. Foley Journalist Safety Guide can be found, free of charge, at

To access the full PDF of the James W. Foley Journalism Safety Modules, click HERE.