ARTICLE: Journalism students receive inconsistent trauma training

Untitled by AxxLC, licence CC0 1.0

Journalists often encounter traumatizing events, or victims thereof, in their work. These encounters can cause reporters to develop to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and cause additional damage to the already-traumatized victims. Hence journalism students should be prepared to recognize and deal with trauma – but are they receiving this training?

Gretchen Dworznik, of Kent State University, and Adrienne Garvey, of Southeastern University, sent a survey to 100 ACEJMC accredited journalism schools in the United States, of which 41 eventually responded.

Majority of the surveyed schools (35 out of 41) include trauma training in their journalism curricula, yet only one school has a dedicated course for the topic. Furthermore, the extent of trauma training varies widely, from two weeks to just one day. Lastly, five of the 41 surveyed schools do not prepare their students to encounter trauma at all.

The survey responses suggest that trauma is a salient part of journalistic work. No respondent refuted the possibility of journalists developing trauma, or journalists exacerbating the victims’ trauma. There was still some ambivalence towards formal training: some schools considered that the topic was not important enough to warrant a dedicated course, that neither faculty nor students would find it interesting, or that the topic was best covered by in-house training by the students’ future employers.

The article “Are we teaching trauma?” was published by the journal Journalism Practice. It is available online on the publisher’s website (abstract free).

Picture: Untitled by AxxLC, licence CC0 1.0.

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