AUSTIN, TX - The parents and sisters of television photojournalist Jim Cox, a KTVK-TV photographer killed on July 27 when two news helicopters collided midair over Phoenix, AZ, and crashed into a city park, killing all four aboard the two aircraft, have started The James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photographers.
The photographer's sister, Leslie Cox of Austin, TX, today told News Photographer magazine that their family started the foundation in memory of her brother to provide financial support to student photographers of high school and college age. The foundation's mission is to provide funding for scholarships, equipment, college and technical school classes for students who demonstrate interest, talent, and financial need.
Alan G. and Barbara Cox, the photojournalist's parents, and Jennifer Cox-Bracksieck join Leslie as the principal members of the foundation's board of directors. Each year through a juried selection process, several deserving students will be picked to receive equipment or tuition, and each grant recipient will also have the opportunity to display their work in an exhibit in the Phoenix area.
The late photographer was a native of New York who started as a live truck operator before becoming an editor and then a photographer. Before working for KTVK-TV he worked for the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, photographing their practices and games. In addition to being a video photojournalist for more than a decade for Channel 3, his family says Jim was an accomplished still photographer who traveled widely photographing from Hawaii to New York and Texas to Scotland.
The summer crash was between KTVK-TV's helicopter, piloted by Scott Bowerbank who was reporting live while flying and covering a police car chase, and KNXV-TV Channel 15's helicopter piloted by Craig Smith, who was also reporting live and flying. Their passengers, photojournalists Cox from Channel 3 and Rick Krolak from Channel 15, were also killed in the crash.
The crash raised questions about the safety and sensibility of having helicopter pilots do both flying and reporting duties simultaneously, and brought attention to the absence of rules and regulations governing the separation of aircraft in such circumstances.
The National Press Photographers Association called for an immediate stop to the practice of pilot on-air reporting in their Editorial in the October 2007 issue of News Photographer magazine.
Despite the crash, and the following outcry about safety, television news stations in Phoenix have returned to the practice of having pilot/reporters who are reporting live while flying the aircraft. Only Channel 12 in the Phoenix market has a news helicopter pilot whose sole duties are flying the aircraft.
For more information about The James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photographers, please see their Web site at www.jamesalancoxfoundation.org, or contact the foundation at +1.512.459.8515, or eMail [email protected]. A scholarship/grant application will also be posted online in the next several months.