SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On Tuesday, ISIS militants released a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff. On August 19th, James Foley, journalist and graduate student of UMass Amherst, was also beheaded.
These recent deaths are changing the way journalism professors teach their students this fall.
Shaheen Pasha, UMass Amherst Asstant Professor of International Relations, told 22News, “It’s a very dangerous time to be overseas and they need to take the time to understand their surroundings. They need to truly understand what they are getting into.”
Pasha was a foreign correspondent in Dubai for 3 years. The topic of safety is still difficult to teach in the classroom.
Brenda Garton-Sjoberg, a Professor in the Dept. of Communication, said, “There’s really no lecture that can really come with telling about these horrific acts it’s a discussion.” A discussion, she says, that isn’t meant to scare students.
Professors don’t want to discourage their students from being foreign correspondents if that’s what they’re dreaming of, and students at Western New England University definitely have those dreams still set.
Megan McConnell, a freshman, said, “It just made me think that journalism is more important. It made me a little anxious but it made me realize why it’s so important.”
Students realize just how important it is. “I think they’re amazing people,” said Gabrielle Kiss, a freshman. “They risk their lives to give us the information we all wanted and needed. In the end I know we’re all scared, but we’re thankful that they were there to give us the information so we weren’t completely blind to what was going on.”
70 journalists have died in Syria since 2011, Foley and Sotloff included.