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Medill, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation name second Medill Foley fellow

Graduate journalism student to support efforts to improve safety for journalists

December 14, 2018
Medill student Kietryn Zychal stands at a podium
Medill student and Medill Foley Fellow Kietryn Zychal (MSJ19)

The second Medill Foley Fellowship was awarded Friday to Medill Journalism graduate student Kietryn Zychal by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

The paid fellowship is named in honor of Medill alumnus James Foley, a freelance journalist who was beheaded by ISIS in 2014 after nearly two years in captivity in northern Syria. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation was created the same year by his family to improve the safety and treatment of freelance conflict journalists, to advocate for the safe return of Americans unjustly detained abroad and to improve U.S. hostage policy.

“We are most grateful to Northwestern Medill to be able to announce and welcome our second fellow, Kietryn,” said Foundation President Diane Foley. “Kietryn will continue the fine work of our first fellow, Juliette, to advocate for the return of all Americans taken hostage and to protect independent conflict journalists.” 

Zychal is the second of three Medill-Foley Fellows and will begin her duties in January. The fellows are based in the Medill Washington offices, where they research and report on U.S.  hostage policy, journalists’ safety training and the issues of reporting in conflict areas for the and websites. In addition, they manage the
foundation website, social media channels and media inquiries.

“The Medill Foley Fellow is a vital role to help the Foundation further its mission,” said Ellen Shearer, a Medill professor who is executive editor of Medill News Service and co-director of the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative as well as a Foley
Foundation board member. “Kietryn’s energy and intelligence, as well as commitment to the mission, will be a great asset as we move into 2019.”

Zychal is pursuing her master’s degree in journalism in Washington. Prior to her studies at Northwestern, Zychal worked in local news covering environmental issues, crime and politics. She also contributed to the 2018 biography of Evelyn T. Butts, published by Smallwood Charlotte Press.

"I think the whole world became James Foley's brother or sister in August of 2014. The shock of how his life ended bonded me to him, his story, his sacrifice,” said Zychal. “I am honored to help preserve his legacy, and to help make the world a safer place for journalists."

Zychal will receive $6,000 for her working during the six-month fellowship from Medill and the Foley Foundation, and will be sponsored to attend hostile environment training.

For more information on the fellowship or the foundation, contact Amy Coyne at