Reporting trauma

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  • Reporting trauma

    1. 1. Covering Trauma Being ethical, staying safe
    2. 2. Exposure to traumaPublic health officials regard violence as anepidemicStudies suggest extensive exposure 40 to 80 percent of population has experienced a traumatic event Perhaps a quarter of those exposed suffer emotional injury William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    3. 3. Exposure to traumaMore central to our existence than weacknowledgePrime time television: five to six violent actseach hourChildren’s programs more violent (by 18 years ofage 200,000 acts of violence) William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    4. 4. Topics on TV News Local National50% 41%38% 36%25% 26% 24% 21%13% 12% 10% 7% 7% 6% 5% 4%0% Crime Gov & Politics Foreign/Mil Disasters Business Other Project for Excellence in Journalism 2003
    5. 5. Crime Trend Local TV News Network TV News 24% 21%19% 18% 7% 4%3% 3%1999 2000 2001 2003 Project for Excellence in Journalism
    6. 6. Trauma & Journalism“If truth is the first casualty of war, privacy isthe first casualty of any devastating,unexpected event.”Crime as a formula for newsLive television coverage exacerbates situationMedia portrays escalating crime at a time crimerate has actually fallen William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    7. 7. Television NewsViolence is the currency of competitionEmphasis is on crimes and events – notpunishments or outcomesThe accused dominate stories, victims fade fromviewViolence explained simplistically William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    8. 8. Journalists also affectedOnce disguised by acode ofprofessionalismMany nowacknowledge pain andsuffering
    9. 9. Journalists also affectedOnce disguised by acode ofprofessionalismMany nowacknowledge pain andsuffering
    10. 10. Trauma & Journalism How do journalists usefully report violence to audience already saturated by violent media? What are the personal and professional costs of trading in injuries of hurts of other humans? William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    11. 11. Trauma & Journalism How do journalists usefully report violence to audience already saturated by violent media? What are the personal and professional costs of trading in injuries of hurts of other humans? William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    12. 12. PremiseNews can tie the victim and the public togetherconstructively through the rigor of thoughtfulreporting practicesJournalists can act humanely toward victims whileadhering to the traditional values of journalism William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    13. 13. PremiseNews can tie the victim and the public togetherconstructively through the rigor of thoughtfulreporting practicesJournalists can act humanely toward victims whileadhering to the traditional values of journalism William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    14. 14. Ethical goals1. Search responsibly for the truth2. Keep the public interest in mind3. Care for the people in the story and others close to them4. Respect the voices of people at the center of an event5. Know that storytellers are also at risk6. Do no harm William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    15. 15. Journalistic treatment of criminals & victims Do not glamorize the criminal Give victim “equal space” Not minutes or column inches Fair, thoughtful, humane Recognize that the trauma victim has become a different person William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    16. 16. Concern for victims Re-examine assumption that reporters must interview all victims and that photographers must capture video & audio of all victims Make choice between preventing harm and causing harm William Coté & Roger Simpson, Covering Violence
    17. 17. Covering TragedyInterviewing Victims
    18. 18. Interviewing victims • Treat victim with dignity and respect – Know when and how to “back off” • Clearly identify yourself – Don’t be surprised if you receive a harsh reaction (particularly from parents of child victims) – Do not respond with your own harsh reaction Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    19. 19. Interviewing victims • You can say you’re sorry for the person’s loss • Never say “I understand” or “I know how you feel.” – Do not be surprised with response “Sorry isn’t good enough.” • Don’t start with the hardest question. – “Can you tell me about Jerry’s life?” – “What did Jerry like to do?” • Listen Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    20. 20. Interviewing victims • When interviewing relatives of a missing person emphasize you seek to profile their lives before the person went missing – not an obituary. • Leave your card in case they want to talk later. Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    21. 21. Covering Tragedy Writing the story
    22. 22. Writing about victims • Focus on the person’s life • Always be accurate – Double check (victims may be confused or distracted when you first talk to them) • Use details that describe victims as they lived • Avoid unneeded gory details about the victims’ death Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    23. 23. Writing about victims • Avoid the following words and terms: – “closure” – “will rest in peace” – “a shocked community mourns the death...” • Instead, use simple and clear words • Use quotes and anecdotes from victims friends and relatives to describe the person’s life • Borrow (and quickly return) current photos of the victim Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    24. 24. Covering Tragedy The visual story
    25. 25. The visual story • Journalists often are the first to arrive on the scene – Be aware of dangerous situations – Be ready for harsh reactions from law enforcement and public – Stay calm – Leave scene if too dangerous Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    26. 26. The visual story • If you record bloody images, ask yourself whether these are important enough for historical purposes or too graphic for your readers and viewers • Do everything possible to avoid violating someone’s private grieving – Distinguish between emotion at public scenes and a private grieving process on private property Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    27. 27. Covering TragedyJournalists as first responders
    28. 28. Journalists as first responders • Know your limits • Take breaks • Realize that you are a human being who must take care of your mind • Find a sensitive listener • Talk about your experience, admit your emotions • Seek comfort from the Gospel • If necessary, seek professional counseling Dart Center, University of Washington: “Tragedies and Journalists: A Guide for More Effective Coverage,” 2003.
    29. 29. http://dartcenter.org

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