Nieman Foundation at Harvard
How to b-e-e of use: Signal Cleveland hosts second annual community spelling contest
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 15, 2009, 10 a.m.

New issue of Nieman Reports: Reporting on trauma

Our friends at Nieman Reports have put together their new edition, and it focuses on an important issue: the interaction between journalists and trauma. How can reporters respectfully cover communities that have been through devastating circumstances? How can they make sure their stories reach an audience overburdened by sad tales? And how do journalists themselves deal with the emotional impact of covering people in great pain?

Go check out the table of contents yourself, but I do want to single out this piece by Jerome Aumente on Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who gained fame/infamy for throwing his shoes at George W. Bush. Aumente — who was working as a trainer for international journalists in conflict zones — met al-Zaidi a few weeks before the world media did:

I was conducting a weeklong series of workshop lectures on the impact of the Internet and new media for about 30 journalists from Iraq. After class, one of the participants, Muntader al-Zaidi, a Baghdad-based Iraqi TV reporter with Al Baghdadia, approached me and shared with me that in the previous year he’d been kidnapped, then released unharmed a few days later by one of the militant factions. He’d also been detained by U.S. forces and released. According to family members, al-Zaidi was deeply affected by his coverage of the death and suffering of civilians, especially women and children. In Beirut, he asked me for help: he said he was nervous, unable to sleep at night, and was suffering from post-traumatic stress. Could I find him help in the United States?

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Dec. 15, 2009, 10 a.m.
Show tags
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
How to b-e-e of use: Signal Cleveland hosts second annual community spelling contest
“Listening is great, and talking to community members is great, but we also have to figure out how to be of use.”
How South Africa’s largest digital news outlet plans to cover the chaotic 2024 election
“There is definitely anticipation in the air of change — not radical change, but some change.”
Postcards and laundromat visits: The Texas Tribune audience team experiments with IRL distribution
As social platforms falter for news, a number of nonprofit outlets are rethinking distribution for impact and in-person engagement.