A tractor-trailer slammed into a large crowd at a Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and injuring dozens. The Dart Center has resources and tips in German and English for journalists who are tasked with covering this tragedy.
Resources for Interviewing
During my career, I have interviewed dozens of people whose lives have been shattered by trauma. Each time, I agonized over the effect my reporting had on their suffering.
Did my journalistic mission justify probing into their private pain? Did I push too hard for details? Was I properly respectful and empathetic? Did anything positive come of it for them?
In the summer of 2016, in advance of a two-day conference commemorating the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize, Dart Center researchers interviewed 10 Pulitzer Prize winners from the past 20 years who were honored for their coverage of traumatic events or investigative reporting on trauma-related issues. Navigate through sections of this article to find pieces by: Alex Hannaford, who wrote on the relationship between Pulitzer winners and their sources, and on the impact of Charles Porter's 1996 Prize-winning photo; Elana Newman, who gathered advice from honorees on best practices in trauma reporting, and created teaching notes for the classroom with Matthew Ricketson and Autumn Slaughter; Matthew Ricketson, who also wrote a conference recap for those who could not be in attendance.
In her book The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, Laura Tillman examines the lasting effects of a deeply troubling crime—the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. Over six years, Tillman surveyed those surrounding the crimes, speaking with the lawyers who tried the case, the family’s neighbors, relatives and teachers, as well as one of the murderers: John Allen Rubio, whom she corresponded with for years. Over the course of their correspondence, Tillman wrestled with a series of tough questions: In the pursuit of a story, what constitutes manipulation? Is some degree of manipulation in this context inevitable? Is it wrong for a murderer to be gratified by the result?
Video coverage of the 2016 Dart Awards presentation and winners' roundtable, featuring Christopher Sherman and Dario Lopez-Mills of AP and Eli Saslow and David Finkel of the Washington Post, explored the story-behind-the-story of their Dart Award-winning pieces; drill down on what's involved in undertaking hard-hitting, humane investigations of trauma, and discuss innovative approaches to reporting on violence and tragedy.
Journalists Alex Hannaford, Jess Hurd, Jason Parkinson and Raniah Salloum spoke with the Dart Center about the reporting challenges in covering stories of migration and refugees, and clinical psychologist Katy Robjant shared techniques for interviewing victims of trauma, as well as self-care tips for those covering the on-going crisis.
At Columbia Journalism School, Katherine Boo - winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and a MacArthur “genius” grant - joined Dean Steve Coll for a discussion of her first book, a powerful and complex work of immersion reporting.
Suggested practices from the Poynter Institute on finding sources and interview subjects for stories about victims and witnesses to trauma.