May 14 2009 9:59 AM
One year ago, a massive earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale killed tens of thousands and displaced millions in the Sichuan province of China. In the immediate aftermath, the Chinese government permitted journalists unprecedented access to the devastation. Stories of collapsed schools and miraculous survival brought the world closer to the rural villages of China, but the work took its toll on the storytellers.
Earlier this year, the first manual for covering such catastrophes was published in China, including translations of Dart Center resources. According to English-language site Danwei, which published a summary and excerpt yesterday, How to Report on Disasters ( interviews of journalists who covered the earthquake. Their words range from practical advice to powerful personal anecdotes.
In the online excerpt, author Li Zixin interviews Yang Lei, a features reporter with the 21st Century Business Herald:
Li: Did you need to do any psychological readjustment after coming back?
Yang: After I came back I started to be afraid of silence. The newspaper had arranged for me to rest at home, but after two days I came back to work. There were so many people in the office, and the hubbub calmed me. My family lives on the 16th floor, and when it was particularly quiet I'd think of what that night [in Beichuan] was like. I can't take silence now. I have to turn on the TV when I'm writing.
Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. He has reported for NPR, Marketplace, WNYC, High Country News, the Orange County Register and others. From 2008 to 2012, he also worked for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, relaunching, editing and producing multimedia content for dartcenter.org.
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