Journalism and Trauma Workshop

Venue: Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary

Journalists are involved in the coverage of many dramatic situations during their career. They approach homicide, mass shooting, domestic violence, natural disasters, suicide, terrorism or civil conflicts. They interact with the victims, with the victim’s families, with the affected communities. They keep (and sometimes hide deep inside) unbearable lasting memories. Covering violence, trauma, mass disasters or individual atrocities and interviewing people who had faced trauma can lead to a serious psychological impact both on the journalists and on the people they interview.

Reporters, photojournalists, engineers, soundmen and field producers often work elbow to elbow with emergency workers. Journalists’ symptoms of traumatic stress are remarkably similar to those of police officers and firefighters who work in the immediate aftermath of tragedy, yet journalists typically receive little support after they file their stories. While public-safety workers are offered debriefings and counseling after a trauma, journalists are merely assigned another story.” (Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute for Media Studies)

This training will help journalists understand core issues of trauma and will provide a safe framework for self-reflection on this topic. In addition, the training will offer practical ways of approaching and interviewing the victims and the survivors. The training covers 16 hours split in two days, with 70% practical activities.

General topics and objectives:

The training will address two main topics. On the first day (8 hrs.) the impact of trauma on journalists will be addressed (post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addictions, resilience, peer support, harassment, dealing with hate campaigns and emotional management). The second day of training (8 hrs.) will focus on practical ways of reporting trauma (interviewing children, covering natural disasters, homicide or mass shootings, domestic violence, suicide and terrorism but also reflecting the story of immigrants and refugees, war or civil conflicts).

All topics will be approached in a practical way using case studies, relevant movies, role plays, group or dyadic exercises and debriefings.


At the end of this training the participants will be able to

  • Approach and interview victims and survivors with greater knowledge, sensitivity and skill;
  • Be aware of the complexity of survivors’ trauma experiences;
  • Be aware of the impact of such events on themselves;
  • Reflect multi-dimensional and more insightful stories about trauma and the victims;
  • Make better, more ethical news choices when covering traumatic events.

Tuition fee: 300 EUR

The fee does not include accommodation, travel and meals.

About the trainer:

Ovidiu Damian is a Romanian PhD psychologist and psychotherapist working now as a producer within the Romanian Public Television. Ovidiu is the creator of the media project called "Unprejudiced" (“Fără prejudecăți – TVR Cluj”), featuring three TV reporters with Down syndrome. In 2016, the TV show won the Global Award for Good Practices offered by the United Nations in New York.