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James Foley's Death Reminds Freelance Journalists of Risks on Frontline

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The killing of journalist James Foley by members of the militant group Islamic State has inspired shock and anger around the world. For the freelance journalists who increasingly cover wars from the front lines, Foley's death is a reminder of the risks they constantly face. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Journalists like Michael Kamber live a lonely life covering the world's far-flung conflicts.

"You are basically on your own. You have relationships with organizations, but you're going out everyday on your own trying to find stories," Kamber says.

Getting the next job often involves a lot of risks.

Something slain journalist James Foley knew. His job cost him his life—at the hands of Islamic State Militants.

"We were willing to go to the front lines and go places that a lot of people wouldn't go," Kamber says. "That was how we got stories."

Freelance journalists work hard to build a reputation among news organizations—eager to cover international stories on waning budgets.

"The reason that everyone works with freelancers is it allows you flexibility at an economical price—a price that we can afford. We can't have 50 staff video journalists around the world," says GlobalPost senior producer Solana Pyne.

Foley worked for the news outlet GlobalPost.

Pyne says GlobalPost keeps in close contact with freelancers and often provides expenses.
But that isn't the norm.

Journalists often working on their own dime cut corners.

"You're trying to hire interpretors, cars and drivers it can easily cost $1,000 a day...There were times I slept on rooftops," Kamber says.

That's dangerous in an environment where journalists are now targets.

"When I started out, people on all sides wanted the press to come in and help tell their story. Today that's completely changed," Kamber says. "They don't want an independent journalist coming in."

And that's why it's even more important journalists in conflict zones know how to take care of themselves.

Kamber, now director of the Bronx Documentary Center, hosted medical training for freelancers in 2012—a course Foley took.

"What really impressed me by him is that another journalist had recently been killed in Libya and James took it upon himself to start a fundraising drive," Kambers recalls.

BDC is now doing the same, hosting a fundraiser for the Foley family on September 6.

For more information, go to BronxDoc.org.

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