Teaching Trauma Pt 7: Developing class lessons


Saturday morning of our Teaching Trauma workshop centered on how to actually prepare our students to cover trauma with exercises on how to introduce some of what we learned into the classroom.

Actually, most of the morning was dedicated to a review of good teaching practices and only the last hour or so was devoted to developing lessons. But we got the message.

I am reminded on one of the seven habits of highly successful people in what we were told to do: Begin with the end in mind. Know what it is you want to accomplish before you start developing a specific plan.

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Teaching Trauma Pt. 6 – My own personal trauma

ScreamSaturday morning of participating in the Teaching Trauma workshop turned into my own personal trauma. Those who know me will understand how close the world came to an end.

When I arrived at San Francisco State University this morning I discovered that in a brain-freeze moment I forgot to pack my laptop computer in my laptop bag. Instead, I left it sitting on a desk in the hotel room in downtown San Francisco; the same hotel room I had officially checked out of an hour earlier. HORROR!!

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Teaching Trauma Pt. 5 – Covering disasters


Part Five of the Teaching Trauma workshop was about covering disasters. Presenter Matthew Stennard from the San Francisco Chronicle made the point that all disasters –fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami, storm, riot, terrorism and war– are all essentially the same, they are community-wide traumas. He used fire to tell us about how to prepare.

Along with other first-responders reporters are given special attention in law to be allowed “beyond the yellow tape” to serve the community. But doing so comes with risks and it is a mistake that “any rookie reporter can do it.” The risks are just too great, from heat exhaustion (with a fire) to death.

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Teaching Trauma 4: Covering suicides


Rachele KanigelPart Five ouf our Teaching Trauma workshop looked at covering suicide.

Presenter Rachele Kanigel from San Francisco State University pointed out that most news organizations do not cover suicide stories unless the suicide is part of a bigger story, such as a murder-suicide, or involves celebrity.

Student organizations are different, though. They are more likely to cover suicide. Continue reading

Teaching Trauma Pt. 3 – Covering trauma


Meg MoritzThe third part of the Teaching Trauma workshop focused on how we cover trauma stories — Act One of Bruce Shapiro’s three acts of trauma (see Part One of my reports). Speaker Meg Moritz, from the University of Colorado, talked about some lessons learned especially from Columbine. A good resource distributed to workshop participants is a one-hour documentary called “Covering Columbine.”

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Teaching Trauma Pt. 2: Effects of Trauma


Session Two of the Teaching Trauma workshop deal with the effects of trauma, not only on the victims, but on the first responders, such as police, fire and medical personnel…..AND JOURNALISTS.

Ginger RhodesThere was quite a lot to absorb from what licensed clincal psychologist Ginger Rhodes shared with us snd a lot of good information all journalism teachers should understand….if you have time for a doctorate in clincal psychology. I’m concerned about how we could incorporate such a large body of information into beginning level classes, though I am conviced we should.

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Covering trauma stories


The country just recognized the 10th anniversay of the Columbine shootings. Since then we’ve experienced a spate of other trauma stories, not only on campus, but in our communities. Think Viginia Tech, Iraq, natural disasters like Katrina, more local shootings and, perhaps more recently, trauma of people greatly affected by the recession.

I am reminded, for instance, of a story of trauma currently being covered by recent community college (Las Medanos College) journalism student Jennifer Wasdworth at the Tracy Press on the death of a young girl allegedly at the hands of the girl’s Sunday School teacher. How have we prepared her to cover this story?

What better time to learn more about how to better prepare students to cover stories of trauma? That’s why I am in San Francisco this weekend participating in a free workshop for journalism educators to learn to do just this.

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