Harlow students learn the importance of dealing with trauma during NCTJ conference


JOURNALISTS at the top of their professions addressed the main issues facing the industry in a conference held at Harlow College.

Colin Pereira, journalist safety specialist working for the Committee to Protect Journalists, opened the discussion saying, “The problem is when young journalists working crime beats who do not have a good risk assessment who can’t answer the question, so what happens when something goes wrong? Risk assessments can save lives they contain core bits of information.”

Sandra Laville, environment correspondent for the Guardian, shed light on the mental strain of working on ethically difficult stories she said, “A lot of what’s digested is put down and the trauma comes back later. It can be hard for an editor to pull you out of it and there should be more touching in with people.”

Angelina Fusco, independent training consultant and former editor of TV News at BBC Northern Ireland, spoke of her own experience: “Everyday was very dark and you went to the pub and that was how you dealt with it.

“Interviewing victims and survivors is different, you’re not trained to do that. Not everything they say is truthful, but it’s their memory of it and we have a responsibility to tell their story.”

Dr Karen Fowler-Watt Head of the School of Journalism, English and Communication at Bournemouth University said, “My interest was sparked a few years ago when I realised journalism schools were failing to engage in the issues around trauma and preparing journalists for this.

“Students want to unpack their own stories into major stories. It makes great journalism, but it’s got a real impact on them and we’re responsible for that as well.”


By Oliver Robinson

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Oliver Robinson

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