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Journalism and Trauma

About This Course

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.

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.

Whether the topic is street crime, family violence, natural disaster, war or human rights, effective news reporting on traumatic events demands knowledge, skill and support. The Dart Center provides journalists around the world with the resources necessary to meet this challenge, drawing on a global, interdisciplinary network of news professionals, mental health experts, educators and researchers.


The Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change.

This $29.95 course is free thanks to the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

  3. Estimated Effort

    3 to 4 hours