Workshop Details

On December 6-7 2013, the Dart Center hosted a workshop for journalists to improve news coverage of immigrants and refugees, with a special focus on mental health. This workshop was sponsored by the Thomas Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health. 

Amid national debate over immigration reform, recent immigrants and refugees face a host of challenges in the U.S. Many have survived extreme traumas in their native countries, such as genocide or violent civil conflict, natural disaster, chronic community violence, poverty and human trafficking. Here, they may encounter discrimination in housing, education, employment, health care or in encounters with law enforcement, along with cultural and language barriers. Women and children often face particular challenges, including family violence.

All of these issues have a profound impact and demand robust mental-health support for individual immigrants, families and communities. But despite this well-documented need, immigrants face significant obstacles in accessing essential help.

Reporters, too, face special challenges in covering immigrant communities – whether in individual stories, on community beats or in reporting on politics and policy.

To help local journalists and regional news organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area improve their coverage of immigrant communities, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School sponsored the two-day workshop, “Covering Immigrants and Mental Health.”

With generous support from the Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health, “Covering Immigrants & Refugees” took place December 6-7, 2013 at WHYY in Philadelphia. The workshop featured a range of local and national mental health and immigration policy experts, award-winning journalists, immigrant community advocates and service providers. The workshop included expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on immigrants and immigration-related issues knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. 

The workshop:

  • Served as a forum for improving journalists’ knowledge of issues affecting immigrants and refugees
  • Explored new research, reporting ideas and best practices with leading mental health and policy experts
  • Confronted challenges — and identify opportunities — that exist for local journalists pursuing these stories with limited resources
  • Provided practical tools to enable journalists to successfully produce stories that address the challenges facing immigrants 

The workshop was offered at no cost to reporters in print, broadcast and online media as well as editors, photographers, producers or bloggers.

This was the fourth Dart Center-Scattergood workshop for journalists. Earlier workshops focused on reporting on veterans, youth violence and suicide. Journalists described these workshops as “inspiring,” “pragmatic,” “refreshing,” and “invaluable.”