Dart in the News: Ochberg Fellows Speak Out About Trauma

Dart Center Ochberg Fellows Sally Sara, an award-winning journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who has reported from conflict zones around the world, and Mike Walter, a senior correspondent for USA Today Live who covered September 11, 2011, are raising their voices about their own experiences covering trauma.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Sara described her time reporting from a Kandahar military field hospital as the most distressing of everything she had previously covered. At the hospital, she followed Canadian surgeon Marc Dauphin as he conducted surgeries on “horrifically injured children.” Sara spoke about Dauphin's breakdown in the initial story, and her own ethical dilemmas regarding when to keep filming and when to stop with patients who could not be saved. “You’re surrounded by people who are dealing with trauma and you wouldn’t want to make it worse,” she said in the interview.

She added, “It's an interesting choice for journalists: you can be pushy in the moment or you can do what you think is right.”

 Watch correspondent Sally Sara's interview with Australian Broadcast Corporation here.

For Walter, it took almost a year to realize that the symptoms he was experiencing after covering September 11 were related to PTSD. In an interview with TV News Check, he spoke about the challenges of facing his own condition, even as the media industry is reluctant to acknowledge problems journalists may experience after covering harrowing events. He spoke about Vietnam-era journalists who dismissed psychological problems that arise from covering horrible events as “sissy talk.”

“We are the last domain where people don’t want to acknowledge that you can be affected by the stories you cover,” he said.