Journalists need trauma training

Reporters sometimes experience stress while reporting disasters.Trauma is not only seen in dramatic stories such as fires, crimes, and deaths, but it is also seen in the recent natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan.

While performing professional everyday tasks, journalists must remember to take care of themselves throughout the process. They can sometimes become too emotionally attached to certain stories, and it is important that the reporters are aware of how to stay healthy on the job.

Journalists report disaster from across the world, including the earthquakes in Japan. This photo was taken by David Guttenfelder of the Associated Press, and it was found on the New York Times Web site.

Poynter News University for journalists offers suggestions to stay healthy including the basics:

  • Sleep
  • Drink water
  • Eat well & regularly

Photographer Patrick Hamilton  covered earthquakes in Papua, New Guinea decades ago but still carries advice to journalists struggling with reporting distress. He said he learned the importance of crying to “release all the tension that builds up.”

Poynter News University also recommends ways to make a support system within a news organization.

  • Talk with coworkers
  • Listen
  • Train others about trauma

The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma specializes in helping reporters succeed while reporting traumatic events. In an article on its website, Howard A. Tyner, the editorial vice president of Tribune Co. publishing division, brought up a point to keep in mind.

“Remember, not only is no story worth a reporter’s life, but a dead reporter isn’t going to report anything,” Tyner said.

If a reporter does not feel comfortable continuing with an assigned project, the reporter should inform others immediately.

Reporters who view negative images of the world and humans should know they are not alone; other journalists cover these topics too. All journalists must take care of themselves to not develop any serious health issues.

By Anna Moegenburg

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