Dart Hosts Broadcast Journalists Representing 24 Countries

“I’ve covered civil conflict, genital mutilation, cutting of ears, mouth and nose… I am numb,” said Stephen Balmoi Odong, a reporter from Mega FM Radio Station in Uganda. “How many years do you need to cover these kinds of stories to get PTSD?”

Last week, Odong visited Columbia Journalism School as part of a delegation of broadcast journalists convened by the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. He and his colleagues, representing twenty-four countries, joined the Dart Center’s Bruce Shapiro for a difficult, yet hopeful conversation on covering violence.

The 90-minute discussion began with participants sharing challenging reporting stories from their respective countries, including anecdotes on covering narco-violence in Mexico, suicide bombings in Pakistan, civil conflict in Liberia and refugee crises in Syria – before transitioning toward self-care practices and peer support systems, and how to work towards eliminating the stigma associated with seeking help.

The group also spent time discussing psychological injury within their individual newsrooms, and spoke about how to prevent it in the future, stressing the connection between ethics and self-care. “As journalists, we’re surrounded by darkness a lot of the time, “ said Shapiro. “Remind your young journalists on a regular basis that what they do is important. Make sure they understand their journalistic purpose. This is what boosts resilience.”

Click here for a full list of participants.