AFTERMATH: Journalism, storytelling, and the impact of violence and tragedy

Feb. 26-28, 2009 — Walter Lippmann House — Cambridge, Mass.

A conference hosted by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University

Sponsored by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and The Dart Society

Why do words so often fail to express the impact of terror, tragedy and disaster? What does it take for survivors to tell their stories — and what does it take for journalists to listen effectively and retell those stories truthfully? What role do journalists play in the process of finding narratives, meaning, and justice in the face of atrocity? And what can journalists learn from artists and academics about narrating stories of trauma, recovery and resilience?

At the end of February, the Nieman Foundation will host a conference looking at trauma journalism. We will convene renowned writers, editors, reporters, photographers, filmmakers, trauma researchers, poets, novelists, historians and others to explore how journalists report the emotional impact of violence, death and disaster on people and their lives.

The two-day meeting has four major goals:

  1. To engage journalists, artists and academics in a frank discussion of what we do — as humans and as journalists — when we tell stories of trauma

  2. To enable journalists to explore the concept of trauma in its scientific, political and social dimensions and provide them with a better understanding of the context in which they tell their stories

  3. To examine the crucial role journalism plays in communicating traumatic events, their impact on people and the larger search for meaning and justice in the face of atrocities

  4. To work towards a definition of trauma journalism and guidelines on how to do a better job practicing it

View the list of speakers »

Photo in Web banner by Donna Decesare/