Years before the world knew of the existence of the violent terrorist group called the Islamic State, Steven Sotloff was a student journalist.
Before Sotloff covered conflict in Egypt and Syria for Time magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and Foreign Policy, he was a senior staff writer at University of Central Florida’s Central Florida Future.
He grew up in Florida and enjoyed rooting on the Miami Heat and the Miami Dolphins.
But his passion for the reporting on the Middle East led him into risks—ultimately his kidnapping in 2013. On Tuesday, ISIS released a video beheading Sotloff in revenge for the U.S.’s airstrikes on Iraq.
This past week, the news has been filled with headlines about Sotloff. But we can’t help but admire Sotloff for his sacrifice for the field of journalism.
Sotloff chose to report on conflict in the Middle East, a difficult year. But he began like any one of us at The Crow’s Nest: writing for his school newspaper.
In a few years, our staff could be scattered across the globe. Some of us could be reporting on politics in Washington. Another could be covering sports in the Tampa Bay market.
But maybe one of us will end up in Syria.
This is not to paint a bleak picture of the field of journalism. Rather, we are commending Sotloff’s passion. And charging our friends in journalism and in other fields at USF St. Petersburg: Follow your passion.
Even if it costs your life.
Sotloff sacrificed much. He walked away from the safety and comforts Florida provided. He left his family, and traveled to some of the most dangerous political climates a journalist could go.
He died at the hands of terrorists—certainly not a glamorous way to die. And this was after being held captive since 2013.
At The Crow’s Nest, we want to take this space to thank Sotloff for his sacrifice, and offer our prayers and support for Sotloff’s family.
And we want to take this time to encourage to tell our readers again: Follow your passion. Don’t just limit your passion to your career. If you don’t have a driving force in life, go find it. And follow that passion wholeheartedly.
You can live life comfortably, but when the end of your life comes, what will you say for yourself? We’d rather die at the hands of our enemies and know we did something rather than die in our sleep in a mansion and know we did nothing of value.
So follow the example of Steven Sotloff and follow your passion.