Journalism and Trauma: A Long Overdue Conjunction

Simpson, Roger
June 2004
Nieman Reports;Summer2004, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p77
This article focuses on the connection between journalism and trauma. The efforts made by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma rests on two beliefs. First, journalism about violence and its victims will best inform readers and viewers when the reporting reflects a solid understanding of the rapidly developing science of traumatic, or emotional injury. Second, the most creative and productive journalists will be those who understand trauma and know how to cope with it for themselves and for co-workers. As of 2004, most recent tragic events make clear what should have learned from the experiences of veterans of 20th century wars--how exposure to trauma creates emotional wounds that need help to heal. Posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition that physicians can diagnose and treat, was not taken seriously by the journalism craft before 1999. For the Dart Center, the training mission plays out in several ways. The center helps newsroom managers and professional organizations train employees and members about traumatic injury and self-care. Teachers must cope with similar barriers to dealing with traumas as those that confront many editors. Teachers and newsroom managers share an impatience when it comes to expressions of emotion. The Iraq experience showed numerous good efforts by news organizations to keep in touch with journalists, whether they were embedded or operating independently of the military. Newsrooms developed effective, sensitive ways of responding to colleagues caught in the storm of war. INSET: Resources for Reporting on Violence.


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