OUTREACH: Workshops & speakers' bureau | Response team and peer support for journalists | Partnerships and programs

Response team and peer support

The Victims and the Media Program recognizes the challenges that reporters face in reporting on victims and trauma. Many journalists risk secondary victimiziation themselves. To meet the specific need of news organizations that cover mass tragedies or unusually traumatic of controversial events involving vicitms, the Victims and the Media Program has, on occasion, assembled a Victims and the Media Response Team, comprised of at least one journalist, journalism educator, mental-health therapist and (if appropriate) victim advocate. Teams have made confidential visits to news organizations in Michigan, to allow staff members to deal with the aftermath of covering large-scale tragedies or controversial victim incidents. The program continues to offer a team response to news organizations on a limited basis.

We also recognize that individual journalists can face problems in doing this work, and we are exploring ways to meet that growing need. One of our goals is to secure the resources to provide training to news organizations so that individuals can serve as peer supporters for their colleagues. A program exploring trauma in the newsroom in Australia offers a model of support where a newsroom peer could provide a short de-briefing to any reporter who has covered a traumatic incident. That trainer peer supporter would also provide follow-up over time to ensure that the individual is coping. Another proposed effort involves working with news managers to generate a supportive culture within the newsroom.

E-mail pen pals

Until we can provide greater outreach, we are attempting to use the Internet to link reporters to one another for informal peer support. If you would like to sign up for this service, please contact Bonnie Bucqueroux at 517.349.4752 or e-mail her at bucquero@msu.edu (please put Pen Pal in the subject line).