NEW YORK, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has awarded its prestigious Conscience in Media Award to three American freelance journalists: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Austin Tice.
Foley and Sotloff were killed by ISIS in 2014, and Austin Tice was abducted in 2012 and remains missing. The journalists were abducted in Syria, which the Committee to Protect Journalists has called the greatest danger to working journalists.
"These three men represent the highest values of journalism: courage, sacrifice and a firm commitment to the truth," said Randy Dotinga, president of ASJA. "Their bravery and dedication are especially inspiring to us as fellow independent writers."
"The Conscience in Media award recognizes journalists who knowingly have endured great personal costs while pursuing the highest tenets of their profession," said Sally Wendkos Olds, interim chair of ASJA's First Amendment Committee. This selective award has been presented only 11 times since 1975.
James Foley was a freelance photojournalist who reported from Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria for GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse, and other news outlets. He was 40 when he died.
"Throughout his life, James Foley was driven by deep compassion for people without a voice," Olds said. "As a conflict journalist he knowingly went into dangerous war-torn areas time and time again." After being captured in Libya and held for 44 days, Foley was then kidnapped while covering the Syrian civil war. For almost two years he was continually beaten and tortured for being an American, until in August 2014 he was murdered by ISIS.
Adds Olds, "Jim Foley expressed his commitment to his work by saying, 'I believe front line journalism is important -- [without it] we can't tell the world how bad it might be.' Tragically, we saw just how bad it was."
Steven Sotloff was 30 when he disappeared in August 2013 while reporting from Syria. A freelance journalist, Sotloff covered the Middle East extensively and wrote for many publications, including Time, Foreign Policy, World Affairs, and the Christian Science Monitor. He died on Sept. 2, 2014.
"Steven Sotloff knew the risks of being a reporter in war torn areas of the Middle East, yet he remained undeterred," said Larry Atkins of ASJA's First Amendment Committee. "He kept going back to cover conflicts in Libya, Egypt, Syria and other countries. A brave and talented journalist who wrote for many major publications, Sotloff went to conflict zones because he wanted to tell the stories of ordinary Arab citizens who were suffering. His bravery and courage will be an inspiration to future journalists who risk their lives to tell important stories that need to be told."
Austin Tice, age 34 and a former Marine captain from Houston, interrupted his studies at Georgetown University Law Center in May 2012 to write about the rebels opposed to the Syrian government. He filed articles for the Washington Post, McClatchy News Service, and other publications during a period when numerous foreign journalists covering the Syrian conflict were being expelled, killed, or abducted. He is believed to be held captive in Syria and to be alive and well, though his whereabouts remain unknown.
"Austin Tice is deeply deserving of ASJA's Conscience in Media award, not only because of the excellent reporting he provided from the world's most dangerous conflict zone, but also because of his willingness to sacrifice personal safety in order to chronicle the plight of a nation riven by civil war," said Cynthia Greenwood of ASJA's First Amendment Committee.
The awards will be presented at 9 a.m. August 28 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with A Capital Event, a conference for independent writers. Registration for the event is open. Contributions to honor the recipients will be made to the James Foley Scholarship at Marquette University, the Steven Sotloff Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders.
Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation's professional association of independent nonfiction writers.
PAST RECIPIENTS OF THE CONSCIENCE IN MEDIA AWARD
1994: Anna Elisabeth Rosmus, real-life heroine of the film The Nasty Girl
1992: Richard Behar, author, "Scientology: The Cult of Greed" (Time , May 6, 1991)
1992: Paulette Cooper, author, The Scandal of Scientology
1986: Jonathan Kozol, author, Rachel and Her Children
1981: Jacopo Timerman
1981: Erwin Knoll, editor, The Progressive
1978: Donald Woods, South African expatriate journalist
1977: Investigative Reporters and Editors
1977: Don Bolles
1976: I.F. Stone
1975: Jerald F. terHorst
Contact: Crystal Goodremote Rankin
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SOURCE American Society of Journalists and Authors