Reporting Conflict and Disasters

17 Things to Remember When Reporting Conflict and Disasters

Practical Suggestions for Journalists Covering Catastrophes

The term “primary trauma” applies to individuals who have had first-hand experience of a catastrophic event. It would include those who survived or witnessed a catastrophe as well as those who have lost someone close to them. Telling their story to journalists can be damaging to these individuals, or it can be therapeutic. The journalist has a significant role in determining which of these it will be. 

Taking Care of Yourself

Journalists who are exposed to catastrophe may themselves develop symptoms of primary trauma, through experiencing or witnessing disastrous events, or losing someone close to them.

But even journalists who just cover tragedies, without an immediate personal connection, often experience what psychologists call “secondary” or “vicarious” trauma, in which they absorb some of the pain or grief they encounter in the course of their reporting.