The James W. Foley Fellowship

Emergency Response


The James W. Foley Fellowship is awarded annually to an individual who is passionate about the issues of journalist safety and freedom of expression.

The fellowship–created in honor of American journalist James Foley, who was killed in Syria in 2014–is a one-year, paid position at CPJ’s office in New York, with support from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

The Foley Fellow serves as an integral part of CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team. Each fellow conducts independent research that advances the safety of journalists and supports the wider CPJ mission.

CPJ’s current James W. Foley Fellow is Lucy Westcott.

Westcott joined CPJ in 2018 as the James W. Foley Fellow. During her fellowship, Westcott will focus on safety issues for women journalists in non-hostile environments. Prior to joining CPJ, Westcott reported for outlets including Newsweek, The Intercept, Bustle, The Atlantic, and Women Under Siege, and was a United Nations correspondent for the Inter Press Service. As a fellow with the International Reporting Project in 2016, Westcott wrote about gender and development in South Africa and Lesotho. She has reported from Egypt, Jordan, Cameroon, and the U.S. She has a master’s in multi-platform journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Westcott is researching safety threats facing female and gender non-conforming journalists in the U.S. and Canada. Based on the results of a survey distributed in March 2019, the Emergencies Response Team has developed new safety resources around digital, physical, and psychological safety. These will be incorporated into the department’s safety kit.

Westcott applied for the James W. Foley Fellowship after the death of journalist Kim Wall. Like Foley and Steven Sotloff, an American journalist also killed by the militant group Islamic State, Wall was a freelance journalist. But unlike them, she was a woman working in a non-hostile environment. Foley and Sotloff reported from the front lines of an active war zone; by contrast, Wall boarded a submarine in Copenhagen to interview its inventor. Although she was reporting alone with a man she’d never met, her friends knew where she was and she was only supposed to be gone for a couple of hours. Westcott said that Wall’s death made her re-evaluate her own approach to safety, and answer the question: How can you evaluate danger and risks as a journalist when you think you’re safe?

Westcott’s expertise is an important asset to CPJ’s emergencies work. Successive fellows are likely to bring their own set of skills that will help ensure this position is continuously responding to the changing needs of the journalists CPJ assists.

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