What is different about interviewing survivors of violence and tragedy? How can reporters avoid re-victimizing already-traumatized individuals? What are the special techniques and ethical obligations in the trauma interview?

Recent Posts

  • IJNet Shares Advice for Interviewing Victims of Trauma

    During my career, I have interviewed dozens of people whose lives have been shattered by trauma. Each time, I agonized over the effect my reporting had on their suffering.

    Did my journalistic mission justify probing into their private pain? Did I push too hard for details? Was I properly respectful and empathetic? Did anything positive come of it for them?

  • The Art of Trauma Reporting: Pulitzer Prize Winners Reflect

    In the summer of 2016, Dart Center researchers interviewed 10 Pulitzer Prize winners from the past 20 years who were honored for their coverage of traumatic events or investigative reporting on trauma-related issues. Alex Hannaford wrote on the relationship between Pulitzer winners and their sources, and the impact of Charles Porter's 1996 Prize-winning photo. Elana Newman gathered advice from honorees on best practices in trauma reporting. Matthew Ricketson wrote a conference recap.

  • How To Tell a Murderer's Story

    In her book The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, Laura Tillman examines the lasting effects of a deeply troubling crime—the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. Over six years, Tillman surveyed those surrounding the crimes, speaking with the lawyers who tried the case, the family’s neighbors, relatives and teachers, as well as one of the murderers: John Allen Rubio, whom she corresponded with for years. Over the course of their correspondence, Tillman wrestled with a series of tough questions: In the pursuit of a story, what constitutes manipulation? Is some degree of manipulation in this context inevitable? Is it wrong for a murderer to be gratified by the result?

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