Slain MU alum James Foley to be honored in media hall of fame

The Milwaukee Press Club recently announced it will posthumously induct Marquette alumnus James Foley into its Milwaukee media hall of fame this fall.

Foley, a 1996 graduate, was captured while working as a freelance journalist covering the Syrian Civil War in 2012. He was executed Aug. 19, 2014 by ISIS.

Thomas Durkin, an adjunct professor of English at Marquette and a friend of Foley’s, will accept the award at the ceremony on behalf of Foley and his family.

“I’m certain Jim would be proud that his work has been recognized by his peers,” Durkin said. “Even more importantly, Jim would continue to advocate for those journalists who shed light in dark areas of the world even in these increasingly hostile times. Jim, like most war correspondents, believed in being a voice for those who so often remain voiceless.”

The Milwaukee Press Club on its website states that it annually inducts five living and five deceased journalists to its hall of fame in order to “honor the men and women who shaped journalism.”

Although Foley spent his journalism career overseas, the press club nominated him for its hall of fame because of his lasting influence on journalists in Milwaukee, according to Marilyn Krause, a director and past president of the club.

“It’s obvious he did not work here as a journalist,” Krause said. “But it’s clear to me when I made the nomination that many journalists are inspired by James Foley’s work.”

Krause also said that it is not uncommon for journalists who worked outside of Milwaukee to be inducted into the hall of fame.  She referenced Jim Miklaszewski, the chief Pentagon correspondent for NBC news, who was inducted in 2004.

Maryann Lazarski, a director of the press club and fellow Marquette alum, said Foley’s work as a war correspondent overseas still serves as a model for journalists to look up to.

“To have the right motivation, the right character to go to some place like Afghanistan or anywhere there’s war, we can all say we’d jump at the chance,” Lazarski said. “As journalists we all should say that, but in reality it’s tougher than you realize. Just the fact of what he did, where he went and what he reported should stand for a great deal.”

Lazarski also said she thinks Foley’s time at Marquette contributed to his commitment to covering war-torn regions.

“His sense of going after the story and digging for the truth, I think part of it was built around his days at Marquette University,” Lazarski said. “Doing the responsible thing, as we’re all taught at Marquette, I would imagine that was at the core.”

The induction ceremony will take place Oct. 28 at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino just south of Marquette’s campus.