Where's George Bush? University students weather the trauma storm of Hurricane Katrina

This source preferred by Stephen Jukes

Authors: Jukes, S.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/23306/

Journal: Journalism Education

ISSN: 2050-3903

Even hardened journalists can experience psychological strains when covering harrowing news stories of conflict, disaster and human suffering. Over the past 10 years, incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in war correspondents has been well documented and awareness among mainstream news organisations of the dangers to mental health posed by prolonged exposure to such reporting has risen. But how does a group of student journalists – the next generation of news professionals - cope under pressure when confronted with a realistic role-play scenario depicting the chaos and personal trauma of a natural disaster? And what are the implications for the learning and teaching of the core skills of journalism and story telling? This paper, based on observation and questioning of a cohort of Postgraduate journalism students taking part in a complex exercise built around the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, explores two main areas: firstly, the personal experience of students interviewing actors portraying victims and survivors of the hurricane; and secondly their practice of journalism when confronted with interview subjects themselves displaying symptoms of distress. The exploration is complemented by an analysis of the multi-media reporting produced by students taking part in the exercise, assessing the extent to which journalism’s objectivity norm is upheld under pressure and the way in which the students frame reporting of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

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