The journalistic world lost another fighter yesterday, Sept. 2. American journalist, Steven J. Sotloff, became the second victim of being beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist organization that controls parts of Iraq and Syria. On Aug. 19, James Foley became the first American journalist to fall victim to these inhumane beheadings.
Sotloff was a freelance journalist who had written for TIME among various other news outlets and publications. On August 4, 2013, he was abducted near Aleppo after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey. His abduction had been kept a secret as for the past year his family had been working feverishly to have their son and loved one return home. However, on August 19, when ISIS released the video of Foley’s beheading entitled “A Message to America,” there was a threat at the end of it to President Obama. The threat alluded that Obama’s next move would determine the fate of Sotloff. Obama had stepped up the airstrikes against ISIS and there was a petition created to save Sotloff’s life. However, yesterday another video was delivered entitled “Second Message to America,” and it shows Sotloff’s beheading execution by Jihadi John, who also executed Foley. At the end of the video, the next presumed victim’s name was announced: David Cawthorne Haines. The White House has confirmed the video’s authenticity. In the video Jihadi John states:
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
There has been much speculation as to whether it is ethical or not to publicly share the videos of the beheadings. The video of James Foley was posted online but has since been taken down. A video of Sotloff’s beheading was uploaded to the Internet by ISIS. Millions still viewed it and many are arguing that it is an invasion of privacy. Now, while it is not Americans uploading the video, it can still be stopped because it is Americans as well as others not part of ISIS who are sharing the original video, in turn causing it to go viral. Being a journalism major myself, I feel that videos or photographs of these two men should not be available for the world to see. When Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed, the government made the decision to not share the photographs of his death. Withholding those photographs sparked a lot of debate, as many Americans felt that they deserved to see the photographs due to all of the havoc Bin Laden caused on Sept. 11th, as well as the years that followed. So why did it seem ethical to post the video of these journalists? Foley or Sotloff did not damage the lives of his fellow Americans in any way; rather they were trying to help Americans by risking their lives to deliver news. It’s an invasion of privacy, and more importantly, these journalists should be remembered for their work and their courage, not just their malicious deaths. It feels as though many articles are focusing more on the debate of whether or not to post the videos of the two men, rather than just remembering them for their work.
That is when this story becomes the news. These two events will be in history forever. When I went on The Washington Post’s website today, not a single one of the top stories was about Steven J. Sotloff. Most of them had to do with the leakage of the Hollywood nude photographs. While that is another horrible event, Steven J. Sotloff died ruthlessly. His death deserves more recognition that just one day. For, Sotloff will never be able to report on another event again. Never be able to see his name in print ever again. Both he and Foley deserve to be remembered for their lives’ work and dedication to the journalism world.
If there is just one thing to take away from the deaths of Sotloff and Foley, it is that terrorism is as alive and prominent worldwide as ever.
“Steven Sotloff.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Mar. 2014. Web. 03 Sept. 2014.