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WRITING BLOGS

Trauma Journalism

I will present my research on the negative impact of extended immersion reporting on literary journalists at the American Comparative Literature Assn. (ACLA) Conference at Brown University this weekend. Interesting analysis of the trauma effects experienced by Capote, Didion, Herr, Thompson, Conover and LeBlanc in their ethnographic work. If you're interested in my findings, send me your email address. Be glad to send you a copy of my paper. (Prof. Mark Massé, www.markmasse.com, mhmasse@bsu.edu) Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Author Sebastian Junger has launched a hostile-environment first-aid training program for freelance journalists. Reporters Instructed In Saving Colleagues (RISC) is a three-day emergency medical course to provide conflict correspondents with life-saving (trauma) techniques in the field. Typically, freelancers are not covered by news organization insurance or training programs. A March 20 Huffington Post article by Michael Calderone explained that Junger, "who started out as a freelancer in Bosnia and went on to write best-selling books like 'The Perfect Storm,' said RISC's sessions will be modeled on the informal training he and (the late photojournalist Tim) Hetherington received in Afghanistan, where the pair made the Oscar-nominated documentary, 'Restrepo.' " Hetherington, a colleague of Junger, died from shrapnel wounds while covering the conflict in Libya. According to Calderone's article, initial RISC sessions will be paid for by donations from major print and broadcast news media. "While accepted journalists are responsible for travel costs, RISC covers their hotel accommodations and provides combat medical kits for them to keep with them in the field." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/sebastian-junger-risc-freelance-journalists-tim-hetherington_n_1367429.html Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

In his 2003 book, "The Human Journalist," author and educator Jim Willis challenged the tradition that says journalists must remain detached from human emotions when covering stories, especially when affected by personal trauma. He said reporting is inseparable from interpretation if the journalist is to be a credible and compelling witness to events. Willis cited research on traumatic stress among reporters, editors, and photographers in advocating for pro-active training and enhanced journalism education to humanize newsroom culture. Read More 
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Einstein's Essay

"The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling." -- Albert Einstein
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Trauma Journalism

According to Adrian Florido in the online publication Fronteras: "More than 40 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2007, many of them for reporting on the country’s ongoing drug war. To protect their staffs, many news outlets now openly self-censor."

Florido discusses the courageous stance taken by the weekly newspaper Zeta: "As many of Mexico's newspapers have backed off, Zeta’s staff has pressed on, through murders and attempted murders of its staff.

Bernardo Ruiz’s new documentary, 'Reportero,' takes us to Tijuana - to visit Zeta’s journalists as they cope with the daily dangers of uncovering the illicit ties between power, money and drugs in Mexico’s largest border city." Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Reporting on tragedy and trauma has been integral to the history of literary journalism, illustrated by distinguished practitioners such as Hemingway, Hersey, Capote, Didion, Talese, Herr, Thompson, Conover and LeBlanc. Through their extended immersion, ethnographic research and participant observation in stories of conflict, crime, disaster, war and other stressful and hazardous coverage, narrative nonfiction authors have been subjected to physical harm or injury and have often endured significant emotional consequences and even disabling psychological effects. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Literary journalist Ted Conover is known for his extended immersion and participant observation in reporting and writing his compelling stories. Successful immersion requires long-term access and trust of sources. Excerpt from his 2000 book, "Newjack," describing his work as a corrections officer at Sing Sing prison in upstate New York:

"But I was also caught between two warring impulses: the incuriosity that made the job easier and an anthropologist or social worker’s fascination with the twists of life that created a criminal and led him to such a place." Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

The recent death of Marie Colvin in Syria illustrates not only the risks faced by foreign correspondents in harm's way, but the leading role of women journalists on the front lines in covering tragedy and trauma worldwide.
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Genealogy

Proud to have my article "Finding Max's Stone" published in the Winter 2011 issue of AVOTAYNU, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy. The article profiles the search for my paternal Jewish ancestry, culminating in the discovery of the headstone of my great-grandparents Max and Pauline Massé in the Moses Mendelsohn Cemetery in West Roxbury, Mass., in August 2009. Read More 
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Trauma Journalism

Prof. Jad Melki, who surveyed journalists and journalism professors about the need for trauma-related instruction: “In doing this study, it became clear to me that trauma journalism should be a fixture of journalism curricula and training programs. ... And given the prevalence of conflict and war, the violence and criminal acts that reporters are asked to cover, and the predictable incidence of natural disasters, there can be no debate about the necessity of putting this topic front and center in j-schools and newsrooms. Perhaps the most salient argument is the moral one; it is journalists’ obligation to those who are victims of traumatic events to tell their stories in ways that don’t inflict more emotional damage on them while informing the public about what has happened.” (Source: Neiman Reports "Trauma in the Aftermath," Winter 2009 issue) Read More 
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