Six years as editor of UNH Magazine have given me the opportunity to share a variety of stories: some fun, others inspiring, and many — I hope — thought-provoking. But I don’t think we’ve ever put out an issue that has felt quite so consequential as the one in your hands.
In August 2013, when I started on my first issue of UNH Magazine, photojournalist Jim Foley had already been a prisoner of ISIS for nine months. I learned about his connection to UNH as I copyedited class notes and read in the class of 1970 column about John and Diane Foley’s efforts to free their son. When Jim was brutally murdered a year later, I struggled to imagine a way this magazine could share the Foleys’ story, but John and Diane provided the path forward when they created the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Established shortly after Jim’s death to promote journalist safety across the globe, the organization celebrates its fifth anniversary this fall, a steady beacon of hope in a profession that has become more dangerous than most can fathom.
It was the Foley Foundation’s mission, in fact, that got me thinking about the other challenges faced by the journalism profession, as well as the many UNH graduates who continue to do the important work of reporting the news all the same. The impossible task of this issue’s story about journalism in the “age of disinformation” is comprehensively representing the sheer number of alumni who work in the field, and the breadth of disciplines and outlets they cover — a testament to the excellence of our alums and the strength of the UNH journalism program.
You might imagine that it was a daunting task to find a third feature that could stand up to the weight and significance of these, but only if you haven’t followed the story of Mark Lenzi ’97, who sustained a debilitating brain injury while serving as a U.S. intelligence officer in China and came home to New Hampshire — and UNH — for his recovery. From one perspective, these three stories suggest a grim theme for this magazine: Americans in perilous places, perhaps, or the dangers of the modern world. But in reading them, I hope you will see that what also joins these three stories is something even stronger, and something many at UNH share: a sense of principle and duty and the commitment to important work for a purpose greater than oneself.
It’s a privilege to publish these stories now, and to share them with all of you.
Kristin Waterfield Duisberg