Journalist blames inexperienced photographer in Steven Sotloff kidnapping

Though he admitted to me that he had never worked in conflict, [Yves Choquette] was quick to add that he had photographed student protests in Montreal. Now he had come to Kilis intending to enter the world’s deadliest war zone”

-Ben Taub, The Daily Beast

Late last week, the Daily Beast published a piece by Ben Taub titled “Was U.S. Journalist Steven Sotloff a Marked Man?” In the article, Taub describes the actions of a freelance journalist (named “Alex” for the article, but later revealed to be Montreal photographer Yves Choquette) who he says compromised the identity of his fixer on the Syria/Turkey border and led to the kidnapping of Sotloff. Taub alleges that the photographer was reckless in his attempts to enter Syria, randomly searching Facebook for people with opposition flags in their profiles to take him across the border. He told these people the name of the fixer he was using, and a few days later Sotloff and that fixer were abducted just over the Syrian border. Choquette did not enter Syria after hearing other warnings, including that militants in Syria knew his location, nationality, and details of his plans to enter the country.

Choquette outed himself in an interview with the Globe and Mail in which he disputes the allegations of inexperience and recklessness. CBCNews also has coverage.

Sotloff remains in captivity, presumably in Syria, after he was seen in the James Foley execution video. The Wire has collected a few links to stories about Sotloff including remembrances by friends who knew him in college.

Remembering James Foley, part 2

RememberingJim.org
RememberingJim.org

The day after James Foley’s tragic death, we collected a number of remembrances written by friends and colleagues.  Many more have been published since the news first came out, and we thought it’d be good to link to those here.

Since Foley’s death, there has been much written about freelancers covering war, government response to kidnapping, what was and can be done to save Foley and others held captive in Syria and elsewhere, the dangers faced by local journalists, and what it means to publish gruesome images released by organizations with agendas. It’s impossible to link to them all, but here are a few that I’ve found interesting:

  1. James Foley’s Killing Highlights Debate Over Ransom
  2. James Foley’s killers pose many threats to local, international journalists
  3. James Foley’s Choices
  4. The Men Who Killed James Foley
  5. Should Twitter Have Taken Down the James Foley Video?
  6. James Foley Among Many Young, Close-Knit Freelance War Reporters
  7. James Foley is a reminder why freelance reporting is so dangerous
  8. James Foley and fellow freelancers: exploited by pared-back media outlets
  9. Did New York tabloids go too far by printing gruesome images of James Foley’s execution?
  10. How to Take a Picture of a Severed Head [← This one was published before news of Foley's killing but fits in line with the discussion of publishing images released by terrorist organizations, governments, etc.]

Meanwhile, over the weekend, tremendous news arrived that Peter Theo Curtis, a journalist missing since 2012, had been released. He was apparently held by an Al Qaeda affiliate there after his abduction from Turkey near the Syrian Border.

Steven Sotloff, the other American journalist seen in the Foley execution video, remains in peril. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that 69 journalists have been killed since 2012, and an estimated 20 journalists, primarily Syrian, are presumed missing there.

Yale Photogrammar: searchable, organized archive of 170,000 FSA photos

Yale Photogrammar - Photos from the FSA organized
Yale Photogrammar – Photos from the FSA organized

A Yale University initiative has made 170,000 FSA photos available online in an easily searchable archive called Photogrammar. The US Farm Security Administration’s Office of War Information photography project during the Great Depression was an unbelievable undertaking. A handful of photographers spent a decade chronicling life in the United States as a way to build support for government programs. The work continues to be an inspiration (see Facing Change, for instance, or Everyday USA), but it’s always been tough to take it all in. The Library of Congress’ archive is difficult to navigate; some images might also be on the Flickr Commons, but it’s hard to tell.

You can search by keyword or photographer, but for me the county-by-county map of photos is the best way to navigate. No matter where you are in the US, you can probably find a photo taken within 50 miles. Check out the dot map, too; you can easily see Jack Delano‘s route between Chicago and Los Angeles there, for instance. And looking up Delano, I learned that he was a composer and earned $2,300/year while photographing for the FSA, the equivalent of $39,270.57 in 2014.

I could spend hours looking through this website…

(via a friend on Facebook)