Children are not miniature adults, and they deserve special consideration when they end up in the news. Yet few journalists have experience interviewing children for routine stories, let alone when tragedy hits. This page brings together wisdom, examples and interdisciplinary resources to aid and inform those concerned with how children involved in traumatic events are covered in the media.
Along with emergency professionals, journalists are often "first responders" when an earthquake or a terrorist attack devastate a community. Large-scale disasters challenge reporters on the ground and newsroom managers alike, both in the midst of a breaking crisis and for months or years afterward.
Family and intimate partner violence is the most common crime, yet the least reported. What do journalists need to know to ensure dignified and sensitive reporting on victims and survivors? What does the public need to know about perpetrators? How can news organizations put domestic violence and its prevention onto the public agenda?
"If it bleeds it leads." The death of one human being at the hand of another is a story that journalists are expected to tell. What are the special challenges posed by these stories of fatal violence? What can reporters learn about interviewing, creating a meaningful context for understanding a personal and communal trauma, about the long trajectory of murder in the lives of survivors?
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?
First defined by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — is now a widely-recognized diagnosis backed up by decades of science. What do reporters need to know about PTSD, how it affects those we cover, and the impact of covering trauma on journalists?
While emergency workers have, particularly in the last decade, recognized the need for self-care and organizational safe-guards, journalists may not yet have been recognized as potential candidates for employee safeguards and increased support. Journalists need to remember is that there may be a number of potential stress reactions they may have when they write about particularly stressful topics, and know the strategies and resources they can use to stay resilient.
Rape is violence, not "sex." Reporting on sexual assault means finding not only the language but the context and sensitivity to communicate a trauma that is at once deeply personal and yet a matter of public policy; immediate and yet freighted with centuries of stigma, silence and suppression. Reporting on sexual violence requires special ethical sensitivity, interviewing skills, and knowledge about victims, perpetrators, law and psychology.
The “anniversary story” is a staple of the news business. And anniversaries of tragedy can be resonant events for survivors and communities. But what is responsible coverage? How are anniversary stories different from breaking news? When does anniversary coverage promote healing – and when does it open old wounds?
War in the 21st century is changing, and so is war reporting. Reporting on war and civil conflict anywhere in the world today means an awareness of the psychic as well as physical toll on soldiers and civilians; sophisticated understanding of human rights; and training in physical safety and emotional resilience. It means, as well, an honest assessment of the impact on journalists of covering war.