Journalism and Trauma


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Journalism and Trauma

This course will teach you how traumatic stress affects victims and how to interview trauma victims with compassion and respect.



SKU: NUSDT02-05 Category: Tags: ,


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Course summary

Journalists who cover traumatic events such as violent crimes, horrific accidents, natural disasters and other situations involving human pain and suffering are often required to approach and interview trauma victims or their family members. However, the skills needed to interact with trauma victims do not always come naturally.

This course will teach you how traumatic stress affects victims and how to interview trauma victims with compassion and respect.

And, this life-and-death pain and suffering doesn’t affect only the victims; it can affect you, too. This course teaches you how to take care of your own health after covering a traumatic event.

Without knowledge about traumatic stress and proper training in how to interact with potentially traumatized people, journalists may find their interviews to be awkward and uncomfortable. Interviewing and writing about traumatized people professionally and accurately requires a degree of skill and insight. In this course you’ll learn about traumatic stress, explore why journalists should know about its effects, and examine how covering traumatic events affects journalists.

Additional resources for journalists covering trauma can be found on NewsU’s Resources for Covering Sexual Abuse of Children, Resources for Covering Veterans’ Issues and Resources for Reporting on the Economy and Mental Health pages.

What will I learn

  • Define traumatic stress and understand its effects.
  • Know why it is important for journalists to understand the effects of traumatic stress.
  • Identify post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD) and the potential effects of working with traumatized individuals, including secondary traumatic stress, burnout and vicarious traumatization.
  • Interview people who have experienced a traumatic event.
  • Cope with secondary stress disorder as a journalist.

About self-directed courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.


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Training Partner

Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy.