Next week, The GroundTruth Project will host a free journalism security workshop at International House in New York to coincide with World Press Freedom Day May 3. The event will be led by Global Journalist Security founder Frank Smyth and Columbia Journalism adjunct professor Judith Matloff.
During a keynote speech last night at Kimball Union Academy, a private boarding school in New Hampshire where the late Steven Sotloff (Class of 2002) got his first taste for journalism, GroundTruth founder and executive director Charles M. Sennott explained how the experiences of Sotloff and another New Hampshire native felled in the line of dangerous fact-finding, James Foley, helped shape his organization’s mission. From a report in the Valley News:
Foley had good training and was a mature reporter, Sennott said, “But did he have sufficient resources — financial — to do the work he did?”
He expanded on the question in an interview after the talk, saying the rates freelancers were being paid to cover conflicts “were not fair.”
“It’s not only not fair,” he said, “it in some cases could end up putting them in harm’s way, without the resources to get out of it. I think Jim Foley was going to go to Syria no matter what; he was going to work as a freelancer.”
All the same, Sennott said, “some of the places he worked and freelanced with — and I won’t say who those are — but some of them paid him $35 a photo.” Those concerns sparked the foundation of his new enterprise, The GroundTruth Project, a non-profit news organization, he said, dedicated to Foley, Sotloff and “the many others” who have died while chasing stories.
Sennott’s talk came Wednesday night ahead of a Global Fair being held today at Kimball in Sotloff’s honor. The GroundTruth founder and GlobalPost co-founder also recalled how he first met the late Sotloff in Egypt in 2013 while filming a PBS Frontline documentary.