The story of conflict journalist, James aka Jim Foley is one that gripped a nation during the years 2012-2014. JIM: The James Foley Story seeks to chronicle his journey in Libya and Syria during his time as a prisoner of war. Directed by Brian Oakes, the HBO documentary focuses on Foley’s legacy as a foreign correspondent. It follows him from his humble upbringing in New Hampshire, the first born of Diane and John Foley, showing how he found his calling in conflict reporting, after a period of time spent teaching in public schools and correctional facilities before going on to study Journalism in the Medill School of Journalism in Illinois.
This documentary is unlike other films of this genre, because it is presented from Foley’s own point of view.. The opening scenes show us images of war torn areas, death and destruction, that he himself has filmed. Foley’s brother Michael recalls the moment he first discovered the news of his brothers passing, “A reporter in Dublin wanted a reaction story… and I said a reaction to what…and he said I’ll call you back in five minutes.” As soon as he searched for his brother online the link to the infamous beheading video emerged.
The numbing feeling that this was all a bad dream is expressed by multiple family members, particularly James’ father John who said, “it was like a bad dream…this couldn’t be happening.” The 40-year-old Global Post correspondent was captured in Syria in late 2012 and held captive until August 2014 by ISIS members. Speaking to director Brian Oakes, all of Foley’s colleagues and family agree that he was a selfless person who had seen a share of devastating loss, who wanted to help in any way he could.
His story of torture and a willingness to travel to the front-line in dangerous circumstances highlights the role of journalists in conflict zones and just how far they will go to get the real story, the real picture of what’s going on. For anyone interested in media and journalism, or for fellow journalism students such as myself I would highly recommend watching this documentary.