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WRITING BLOGS

Trauma Journalism

Like many trauma journalists, Judith Matloff had “absolutely no desire to cover violence” when she began working in 1981 with a degree from Harvard in Latin American Studies. She was interested in politics and fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Matloff was first a general reporter for UPI in Mexico City, editing stories from across Central America. By the early 1990s, she was a veteran correspondent for Reuters, having reported across Europe and Southern Africa. Her facility with Portuguese led to postings in Angola and Mozambique during periods of intense violence. In her career, Matloff spent years in dangerous assignments across Africa and Eastern Europe. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

The harshest criticism from community residents affected by tragedy (e.g., Littleton, CO; Lancaster, PA; Blacksburg, VA) is often reserved for national news media. Major complaints: 1) mistakes, misinformation, and error-filled reporting; 2) arrogant, patronizing, insensitive attitude of reporters; 3) relentless media coverage, which can re-traumatize children and their families, arguably driven not by genuine news value but by the quest for circulation and ratings. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Although accounts of journalists covering conflict, tragedy, or trauma date back centuries, social scientific research examining these issues is a recent phenomenon. One of the earliest such studies in the 1994 American Journal of Psychiatry concerned the stressful psychological reactions of
15 journalists who had witnessed an execution of a man found guilty of the murder of two 16-year-old boys. The results indicated that “merely witnessing violence may be sufficient to promote the development of dissociative, anxiety, and other symptoms, even in the absence of physical risk.” Read More 
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Trauma Journalist

In 2009, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were imprisoned for almost five months in North Korea for entering the country illegally. Ling spoke at Ball State Univ. on Oct. 12 about her experiences. In late March 2003, just days before the US invasion of Iraq, Molly Bingham was working as a freelance photojournalist when she and three other Western journalists were arrested by Saddam Hussein’s security forces and taken to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, where she feared she would be tortured, raped, and/or killed. She spent eight “terrifying” days as a prisoner, interrogated and accused of being a US spy. Weeks after her release, she had recurring fear and anxiety. She began journaling about her imprisonment. Such an articulation process (writing) is a “classic treatment for PTSD— to begin to ‘own’ your narrative of a harrowing experience.” Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

The BBC and other international news media use a military model for post-traumatic treatment. The goal is to offer debriefing and support services that enable the journalist to recover and return to work. The Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) program is based on peer-group risk assessment and uses cognitive behavioral therapy. Research has shown this program is effective in identifying at-risk personnel and providing early intervention. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Former TV reporter-turned academic, Gretchen Dworznik studied coping mechanisms of broadcast journalists. The Ashland University (Ohio) assistant professor employed psychological methods to examine the emotional effects of repeated exposure to fatal auto accidents, murders, kidnappings, and other violent crimes. Instead of a survey, Dworznik used journalists' personal narratives about their experiences to reflect how they adapted to their stressful work and found constructive meaning in their efforts. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Newsroom reform faces management resistance mostly due to entrenched attitudes. Case in point: Elaine Silvestrini was working as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press (New Jersey) on 9/11. She was also an internal ombudsman at the paper, conveying concerns and requests from staff to management. One of her first tasks was to secure pizza for those working long hours after the terrorist attacks. A simple enough request. But Silvestrini remembers some in upper management groused about spending money for newsroom meals. Less than a week after 9/11, one editor commented: I think people should be back to normal by now. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Typically, journalists believe they don't have a right to feel affected when documenting the tragedies of others. They say such personal reactions feel “self-indulgent,” even when they are experiencing traumatic effects (e.g., depression, guilt, anxiety). Trauma experts stress the importance of news media acknowledging their own health and welfare while being respectful and empathetic to those primary victims of conflict, tragedy or disaster. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Today (Oct. 6) is release date for publication of my book TRAUMA JOURNALISM: ON DEADLINE IN HARM'S WAY. http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=157783&SearchType=Basic
My thanks to all who contributed to this book and supported me through the years of research and writing. Onward!
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Trauma Journalism

Trauma journalism requires empathy for victims and others affected by crisis and tragedy. Traditional newsrooms cite objectivity as a standard. But the true definition relates to a scientific or “non-biased” method of reporting, not an imposed neutrality or lack of emotion. According to Kovach and Rosenstiel (The Elements of Journalism), “impartiality was never what was meant by objectivity.” Successful reporting calls for transparency, verification and a reliable (credible) version of events. Read More 
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