Journos should talk to someone about trauma: New DVD | radioinfo

Journos should talk to someone about trauma: New DVD

Friday 29 February, 2008
Brett McLeod at the DVD Launch this week

A new DVD was released this week exploring the impact of trauma on news media professionals. Almost every journalist will have to report on trauma at some time. Car crashes, murders, disasters, wars and the like are bread and butter for most media outlets. But what impact does reporting such stories have on the news-gatherers?

How many reporters, photographers, editors, sound assistants and so on have an image or story that continues to haunt them?

2UE PD Greg Byrnes, who covered events such as the first Bali bombing, says radio reporters are surrounded by dramatic images. “You feel you want to be gung-ho and get in there, but it hits home… everyone is effected. You are going to be affected and managers need to take that into account and have support systems in place.”

Nine Network stalwart Peter Harvey’s advice in the video is: “If you’re dealing with something that is shocking, ghastly, heart-wrenching, don’t leave it inside you, talk to someone.”

Fairfax journo Gary Tippet describes his response to one tragic story in the video saying: “I sat down at two o’clock in the morning and there were teardrops falling on the keyboard.”

The new DVD, launched in Sydney at the Glebe Books store, called “News Media & Trauma” provides a unique and candid insight into the difficulties of reporting traumatic stories. It features a range of news-gatherers from commercial television networks, the ABC, newspapers and radio, including the 7 Nertwork’s Jessica Adamson, 2UE reporter/program director Greg Byrnes and Philip Williams from the ABC.

“I knew I’d stepped over a line. This affected me more than I thought,” says Williams on the video, describing a school massacre. He says the effect on him was felt by his family.

Nine Network reporter Brett McLeod put the DVD together for the Dart Centre for journalism and trauma.

All the speakers in the DVD speak openly about the stories that have had the greatest impact on them, and how they coped, or tried to. Jessica Adamson reveals the hate mail that followed her reporting of a baby drowning in Adelaide. Renee Nowytarger tells how a local car crash took a greater personal toll on a photographer than a disaster.

The DVD was put together by the Nine Network’s Brett McLeod under the auspices of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma (link below), which is part of an international organisation working to help the media do a better job of understanding issues around violence and trauma.

Cait McMahon, managing director of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma – Australasia, hopes the DVD will help engage journalists in conversations, both formal and informal, about the coverage of violence and trauma:

“Developing skills in how to better deal with the consequences of trauma exposure results in better journalism and, ultimately, better stories... We hope this DVD will be of use and interest for everyone in the industry, including journalists, educators, editors and managers.”

Launch photos below, courtesy of the Dart Centre, by Andrew Meares: Cait McMahon (director of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma – Australasia), the crowd, the DVD cover.


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