Best Practices in Trauma Reporting

Journalists who are sensitive to the suffering of others and understand the complexity of emotional trauma are often able to write about traumatic experiences in a way that is informative, engaging and often helpful to readers.

Not incidentally, journalists and editors who are sensitive to trauma also tend to be sensitive to each other. The positive changes in trauma reporting are catching on not only in newsprint but in newsrooms. The president of the Dart Center’s Executive Committee, Joe Hight, who is also managing editor of The Daily Oklahoman, wrote about The Wichita Eagle’s decision to devote extensive coverage to the victims of alleged serial killer Dennis Rader. “Why all the coverage devoted to the victims?” Hight asked. “Because its editor listened to a newsroom who was sensitive to victims’ family members and the community, sensitive to what was needed to continue the long recovery from a sensational tragedy.” Prior to his involvement with the Dart Center, Hight’s own newspaper received a Dart Award for its coverage of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

For more than a decade, the Dart Center has steadily laid the groundwork for preparing and training journalists to understand and write about trauma.