From the senior editor
I had just started a new job covering the Pentagon when the Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. It was February of 2003, and because several of the crew members had been in the military, I was assigned to write about their lives and the human cost of the tragedy.
I remember being very nervous to call the friends and family of the deceased. I was unsure how to approach these people — who were publicly going through the worst moments of their lives — to ask them deeply personal questions about the loved ones they had just lost. I can still hear the voice of a Marine colonel who was weeping on the other end of the phone and remember not knowing what to say to say to him.
Looking back on that assignment, I wish I had known about trauma-informed reporting and that I had someone in the newsroom who could walk me through its best practices. I think I would have been more confident that I was at least minimizing harm as I asked my questions. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to share with you our latest feature story, “Why Some Journalists Are Centering Trauma-Informed Reporting.” In it, you’ll find practical advice for approaching sources experiencing hardship as well as examples of stories that have put these principles into practice.
We’d love to hear more about how you or your newsroom is approaching trauma reporting. Write me back and let me know.
Until next time,
Instead of focusing on the unprecedented nature of the FBI action, journalists need to explain why presidents have been able to avoid scrutiny