Photo Gallery, Panel Discussion Among Newhouse Events Shining Light on Trauma-Informed Journalism 

Preparing aspiring journalists at Newhouse to cover traumatic events in a moral and ethical way is the focus of “Trauma-Informed Journalism in a Time of Chaos,” a series of events that start Thursday at the school.  

The series, which includes a photo gallery opening, interactive panel discussion and workshops, is meant to help empower journalists with the tools to be both professional and ethical when working with vulnerable populations, while being resilient and supporting their peers, said Ken Harper, an associate professor of visual communications who created the program. 

a soldier cries while holding onto a tree trunk
The sole survivor of a massacre finds his home in ruins after the Bosnian army recaptured his village from Serb forces in the fall of 1995. He is standing on what is believed to be a mass grave of 69 people, including his family. (Photo by Ron Haviv / VII / Redux)

The field of journalism requires journalists to write articles on numerous pressing and traumatic topics, which can take a toll on one’s mental health, Harper said, though it’s hard to cover a story consumed by hardship without experiencing it yourself.   

Ken Harper
Ken Harper

“How do you do the work that is needed to be done as a journalist and still be kind, and not come out of it a wreck yourself?” said Harper, who is also the director of Newhouse’s Center for Global Engagement. “If you are going to shooting after shooting, fire after fire, conflict after conflict, decades long poverty and marginalized people, how do you still function?” 

The events, which are the beginning of an ongoing series sponsored by the nonprofit organization Trust for Trauma Journalism, were created to give students the tools they need to enter the field of journalism. Harper has been working on this for about the last five years with Amy Putman, a member on the Interim Board of Trustees for the Trust For Trauma Journalism, but progress was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newhouse Dean Mark J. Lodato, Julia Pierson, vice chair and treasurer of the Interim Board of Trustees for the Trust For Trauma Journalism, as well as Aileen Gallagher, chair of Newhouse’s magazine, news and digital journalism department and Anthony Adornato, chair of the broadcast and digital journalism department, were also involved in helping to plan the series.  

Musician Justin Brady at his burnt home in Mallacoota, a small town in the East Gippsland region in the state of Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Rachel Mounsey/Oculi)

The “Trauma” series consists of three events over two days. All events take place in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium. 

The hope is that attendees come away with techniques to cope and report on tough or emotional situations.  

“We are really excited to provide students with the tools they need to go out into the world and do good work,” Harper said.

Alix Berman is a sophomore in the magazine, news and digital journalism program in the Newhouse School.