Dorie L. Griggs

Stressed? Grieving? Out of Balance? This Feature Is for You

By Dorie L. Griggs
First Published in Southern Newspaper Publishers Association eBulletin
February 6, 2003

"Hi. My name is Dorie Griggs, and I'm a chaplain to journalists."

For the past year that is how I introduced myself to scores of reporters, camera operators and other media types covering sporting events in Atlanta. It was strange to hear myself say the words chaplain. I fully anticipated strange looks combined with a pleasant but distancing remark like, "That's nice. Have a nice day." Followed by a quick departure.

But instead I was privileged to listen to scores of stories told by writers and photographers who covered sports and other types of news. They relayed stories of witnessing terrible human tragedies. Some found themselves in harm's way while covering a story. It didn't take me long to realize how similar my work in the press room was to my work as a hospital chaplain. In both places I listened to the struggles experienced by a diverse group of people.

Through the SNPA eBulletin, I hope to provide a listening ear to SNPA members and to discuss topics such as living a more balanced life, grief, stress relief, work ethics and the news.

For the majority of my life, I have worked either for pay or as a volunteer, in the press room of sporting events.

The press room is my comfort zone. It's where I grew up, quite literally. I called in the results of baseball games and track meets for my high school teams. In college I worked in the Sports Information Office. Eventually I became an Assistant SID, then held other positions all relating to the media.

I've stayed up late filing stories via telecopier, sometimes dictating a complete story when the machines were down. I've lugged ditto machines into football press boxes in the early years to run off the stats which would make it into the paper the next day. Helping the reporters deal with uncooperative coaches, and tired players occupied my game day routine.

For the past 16 years I have volunteered in Atlanta working in the press room for events like the Peach Bowl, Georgia Tech games, pre-Olympic events, post season basketball tournaments and, this past year, the Final Four.

Everyone needs a compassionate ear now and again. I believe, as members of a very stressful profession, journalists are under valued and over looked especially by members of faith communities.

I look forward to being in conversation with the membership of SNPA. I don't claim to have all the answers. I do hope we can struggle with the questions together.

The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice.

Dorie L. Griggs holds a Master of Divinity degree and her ministry is to journalists. Contact her via e-mail:

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