Radio Program Probes Impact of Trauma on Kiwi Journalists

“This is the first time I’ve ever done an entire program on one single topic like this,” said Radio New Zealand’s Colin Peacock, of his program that aired last weekend about the impact of trauma on New Zealand’s journalists. “But if I did it in a short form I couldn’t really do it justice.”

On February 22, 2011, Christchurch, the second-most populous city in New Zealand, was rocked by a devastating earthquake that left 185 dead. More than half of those killed were found in the rubble of the Cantebury Television (CTV) Building, which collapsed and caught fire. As the Dart Center reported that day, a host of resources were made available online, including a comprehensive map-based crowd-sourcing platform run by the New Zealand news and information service; and a customized, embeddable version of Google’s Person-Finder. The Dart Center’s resources, housed permanently on the site, were also featured, and in August, Dart Centre Asia Pacific convened a special workshop in New Zealand for journalists, aimed at helping them prepare for and cope with such an event in which some saw their colleagues dying in front of them.

Many of the participants agreed to speak about their experiences with Peacock for Mediawatch, and this program is the result:

Peacock’s sensitivity and the candor and bravery of the featured journalists make this an impressive and personal look at the challenges journalists face, as well as an introduction to the efforts underway to support them. “For decades experts have studied the effects of crime, conflict and catastrophe on victims - and also on soldiers, paramedics and police officers,” Radio New Zealand’s introduction to the program states. “But not so for those...on the scene at disturbing events: journalists.”

Some resources from the Dart Center include:

--Earthquake Advice From One Who's Been There

--Working With Victims and Survivors, A Tip Sheet

--Reckoning With Aftershock, A Speech by Dart Center Executive Director Bruce Shapiro