Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mimi Award Winner Announced

It's been an incredible several months working as the administrative support for this new award. David Clark Scott of the Christian Science Monitor won the first Mimi Award, but all the editors nominated were terrific.

If you have a chance read the background on the award and editor Mimi Burkhardt.

Monday, February 26, 2007

New journalism resource!

A new resource for front line journalists is now available. Thanks to the work of Dr. Anthony Feinstein, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Journalists Under Fire: the Psychological Hazards of Covering War (John Hopkins University Press) and the sponsorship of Chris Cramer and CNN, front line journalists now have a way to assess their psychological state. From the web site welcome page:

"This web site has been developed as a service to front-line journalists. It provides a self-assessment program that you can use to assess your psychological well-being. It has been developed because research has shown that journalists who confront situations of grave danger may, in some cases, develop symptoms of emotional distress. These life threatening situations often occur far from home in situations where the appropriate health care expertise is not available."

To receive the required password to take the assesments, journalists and news outlets can contact Dr. Anthony Feinstein via email: Antfeinstein@aol.com

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Chaplains and Journalists

Plainviews, the eletter of The HealthCare Chaplaincy in NYC published my article last week. Here it is:

Chaplains and Journalists

Imagine you are on the first day of your first job right out of college. You walk into a gruesome crime scene. In front of you lie several bodies bloodied from the gun fight that ended just a short while ago. You are given the task of investigating the scene and writing a report all within a few hours.

This is just one scenario a new journalist may face. Reporting the news in a timely manner often means pushing your own emotional reactions to the side.

Throughout my adult life I’ve had the privilege to listen as news journalists relay similar situations they’ve encountered while doing their jobs. Each journalist developed coping skills for handling the violent and traumatic events he or she reported. Some eventually left the field too overwhelmed by the stories they covered.

Many journalists enter the profession out of a desire to help society, to expose an injustice and to improve the human condition. Like first responders to any emergency, journalists must develop coping mechanisms to process their experiences while continuing to do their jobs.

The journalists who write or talk on air about a story have one outlet for the difficult situations they’ve witnessed, but they generally have to develop their own support network. Photojournalists and videographers often do not have the writing outlet. Doing their job properly requires close proximity to the event with only the lens of their camera between the trauma and their eyes. They too must develop their own outlets for processing what they witness.

Chaplains have a tremendous opportunity to be a caring presence to these journalists. Over the past six years I’ve studied the field of news journalism and found a great deal of acceptance and also skepticism among news professionals.

They often appreciate the fact that a non-journalist relates to their particular job stress but are wary of anyone from a faith community they perceive as trying to push a religious agenda.

Still, a chaplain can reach out to news journalists in many ways:
• Put any discussion of religion aside and be a listening presence for the journalist.
• Send an email after reading a story with “Thank you” in the subject line. In the body of your message express appreciation for their work and recognize the difficulties of reporting on the difficult situation. Very rarely do journalists hear words of appreciation.
• A chaplain can work through local journalism associations to provide workshops and coordinate educational sessions for first responders and the local journalists who report on violence, trauma and other difficult stories.

To learn more about journalists and the particular difficulties they face in the course of their work you can visit these web sites:
• The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma: www.dartcenter.org
• Poynter Institute: www.poynter.org
• Journalism resources: http://www.journalism.org/resources/sites/websites.asp
• The Committee to Protect Journalists: www.cpj.org
• International Federation of Journalists: www.ifj.org
• International News Safety Institute: www.newssafety.com
• International Press Institute: www.freemedia.at
• Reporters Without Borders: www.rsf.org

Friday, March 31, 2006


Thanks for visiting.

I agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

If you'd like to know a bit about how I became interested in working with journalists read this column. The column was written over 3 years ago. I still believe that journalists should be supported, but I am no longer seeking ordination in a particular denomination. Instead my hope is to continue to remind the general public of the important role solid journalism plays in a free society.

In my experience the journalists who report from the most violent areas on earth (which can include your own back yard) do so out of a sense of justice. They hope to make a positive difference in the conditions the people of these countries live in.

Please visit the links page on my web site to learn more about he challenges journalists face in the course of doing their job.

If you read a story or photo that moves you, remember to thank the journalist.