Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The Society of Professional Journalists faces a “dire situation”
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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?

POSTED     Dec. 15, 2009, 10 a.m.
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