Monday, October 19, 2009

IFJ Honours Courage and Integrity of Samoa Journalists

SYDNEY - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) honours the courage and professionalism of local and foreign journalists reporting on the tsunami that struck Samoa and nearby Pacific Islands on September 29 killing 119 people.

A trauma debriefing mission to assist local media personnel in dealing with the impacts of reporting wide-scale disaster will be conducted in Samoa this week by the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, at the request of the Journalists’ Association of (Western) Samoa (JAWS) and IFJ Asia -Pacific.

JAWS Secretary Cherelle Jackson said many local journalists had reported the devastation of the tsunami to the international media even as they were unaware of the fate of their families and friends.

“It was hard to report without being affected by what had happened, nothing could prepare any journalist to cover such a tragic event without being personally affected and reduced to tears on the spot,” she said in a statement.

The Alliance Safety and Solidarity Appeal, which is funded by donations from Australian journalists, is jointly supporting the trauma-support program to be conducted in Samoa’s newsrooms by Dart Australasia’s managing director, Cait McMahon, and New Zealand veteran war correspondent Jon Stephenson.

“The IFJ praises the courage and commitment of our Samoan colleagues and their professionalism and integrity in reporting under such extreme and personally affecting circumstances,” IFJ Asia -Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

The IFJ stands in solidarity with Samoa ’s journalism community as it meets the challenge of continuing to report on the impacts of such wide-scale disaster.

For further information contact IFJ Asia -Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600 , 000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dart Centre to assist Samoan Journalists who covered tsunami

APIA (JAWS) - The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma have offered assistance for local journalists in dealing with the trauma of reporting on the recent tsunami devastation in Samoa.Cait McMahon the Managing Director of Dart Centre Australasia will be travelling to Samoa with veteran War Correspondent Jon Stephenson to take part in the Post-Tsunami Journalist Debrief Mission, in local newsrooms.
The Debrief Mission is an initiative of the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa (JAWS) whose member journalists were the first to expose the devastation to the international media..Local Journalist Cherelle Jackson reporting for Agency France-Presse (AFP), was on site shortly after the tsunami had hit and saw first -hand the initial devastation."It was hard to report without being affected by what had happened, nothing could prepare any journalist to cover such a tragic event without being personally affected and reduced to tears on the spot," she said.

In response to the world- wide media attention on Samoa, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed their solidarity with the local media during the week of the tsunami.

Programme Manager of IFJ Asia-Pacific Ms. Deborah Muir said: "We have observed the news reporting of the tsunami tragedy in the Pacific, and commend the professionalism of local journalists and media workers in Samoa to report in the most difficult of circumstances on events that must be affecting you all deeply.We understand your job requires that you report impartially even in extreme circumstances, but we also know that as individuals who are witnessing such traumatic events you too will be suffering."
IFJ offered to assist Samoan journalists and sought the partnership of the Dart Centre.IFJ and Dart will fund the Debrief Mission of McMahon and Stephenson to Samoa.According to Stephenshon who is also an Ochberg Fellow for Dart Centre International says that trauma from the tsunami devastation was spread far and wide."Living in Auckland, the largest Polynesian city in the world, it is impossible not to have a sense of the tremendous shock and loss that Samoans are experiencing."He said: "Samoan journalists have been especially hard hit. Many experienced the tsunami directly and lost friends or relatives, then they had to report on it all. Cait and I are travelling to Samoa to listen to our colleagues, to learn about the challenges they are facing, and to offer whatever support we can."
The Dart Centre specialists will begin Debriefing sessions with local journalists on Tuesday next week.

Background of Dart Specialists

Cait McMahon

Cait McMahon PhD (Cand.) is a registered psychologist and fulltime managing director of Dart Centre Australasia, with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia and activities throughout the Asia Pacific region. McMahon has been interested in the nexus of journalism and trauma since working as staff counsellor at The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia in the mid ‘80’s and 90’s. This interest resulted in postgraduate research in the area in 1993 with subsequent publications.Cait is the only Australian psychologist to be published in the area of journalism and trauma. She has a significant history of clinical private practice, organisational development consulting and employee assistance programs. Cait continues to pursue further research at Swinburne University in Melbourne into journalism and trauma, focussing on both post-traumatic growth and post-traumatic stress experienced by news media professionals.

Jon Stephenson
Jon Stephenson is a New Zealand journalist with extensive experience reporting conflict and trauma. In addition to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Jon has reported on the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon and on conflict in Gaza, East Timor and Zimbabwe, as well as on natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Asia, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province. A graduate of the University of Auckland, Jon has received numerous awards for his journalism, including the prestigious Bayeux-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents. He was a 2008 Ochberg Fellow at the US-based Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and was recently appointed to the Center's Australasian advisory board.

Post Tsunami Journalist Debrief Mission

Dear JAWS Members,
This is to inform you that two members from the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma will be travelling to Samoa next week to talk with local journalists regarding their coverage of the tsunami devastation. The mission is to debrief media workers who have been personally affected by the devastation. The mission is in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists based on an initiative by JAWS. The visiting specialists are Cait McMahon the Managing Director of Dart Centre Australasia, and veteran War Correspondent Jon Stephenson. They will be visiting your newsrooms on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
In the end, JAWS will be hosting a Post Tsunami Journalism Discussion Forum at Le Alaimoana Hotel on Thursday 22nd of October followed by a light lunch in honour of our guests.

For more information contact us at 777 3776.

But here are some useful links:

Dart Centre Website:
IFJ Pacific Website:
JAWS Website:


JAWS Secretary

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

JAWS grieves for late Peter Letiu

APIA - The Executive Board of JAWS today took part in the funeral of Radio Announcer and host of the Love Songs to Midnight Show on Fetu FM, Peter Letiu.
Peter who was a volunteer fireman, died on Tuesday when his firetruck rolled of a steep road on the island of Upolu, while heading towards the South Side of the island to assist in tsunami recovery efforts by the Fire Services.

Peter is known in the media circles and contributed greatly to the establishment of Fetu Fm station. Peter was also a photographer, graphic designer and make up artist. He was also a major part of the advertising industry in Samoa.

JAWS expressed heartfelt sympathies to Peters family, colleagues and friends.

May he rest in peace.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Reporting on the tsunami: Assistance for Journalists

Tips for covering traumatic events in your community:

1. Understand that your coverage of a traumatic event will have an impact on your readership, viewers or listeners. Remember that the tone of your coverage may reflect the tone of the community’s reaction to it. Thus, you should establish policies that affect your coverage: For example, consider coverage of public memorial services for the victims, instead of private funerals. And, if you do decide to cover private services, call the funeral home to ensure that you will not intrude.

2. Write stories about the victims’ lives and their effect on your community. These are short stories about the victims, their favorite hobbies, what made them special, and the ripple effect of their lives. In many cases, victims’ relatives want to talk when they realize that the reporter is writing these types of stories. In 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing, The Oklahoman called these stories “Profiles of Life.” The Oklahoman also did “Profiles of Life” after the record F-5 tornado outbreak in May 1999 that killed 44 people and the plane crash in January 2000 that killed the 10 members of the Oklahoma State University basketball team and staff. After the Sep. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack, The New York Times called its short stories about the victims “Portraits of Grief.” The Asbury Park Press called its stories “In Tribute.” These short stories can be published daily in a similar format until all of the victims have been featured. They sometimes lead to bigger stories, too.

3. Provide forums on what people are thinking, especially words of encouragement. Offer lists for ways people can help and how they have helped. Frank M. Ochberg, M.D., chairman emeritus of the Dart Center Executive Committee, says, “Journalists and therapists face similar challenges when they realize their subjects are at risk of further injury. Techniques may differ, but objectives are the same: to inform about sources of help.”

4. Find ways people are helping, including acts of kindness, and report on them throughout the recovery process. This may provide hope for the community.

5. Constantly ask these questions: What does the public need to know and how much coverage is too much? When does a medium become infatuated with a story when the public is not? A community is much more than a mass killing or disaster. The coverage must reflect that.

From the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

Tsunami Reporting: Tips for taking care of yourself in the field

From the Dart Journalist and Trauma Center. This is for the sake of local journalists covering the Tsunami devastation. Please take care of yourselves.

1. Know your limits. If you’ve been given a troublesome assignment that you feel you cannot perform, politely express your concerns to your supervisor. Tell the supervisor that you may not be the best person for the assignment. Explain why.

2. Take breaks. A few minutes or a few hours away from the situation may help relieve your stress.

3. Find someone who is a sensitive listener. It can be an editor or a peer, but you must trust that the listener will not pass judgment on you. Perhaps it is someone who has faced a similar experience.

4. Learn how to deal with your stress. Find a hobby, exercise, attend a house of worship or, most important, spend time with your family, a significant other or friends — or all four. Try deep-breathing. The Eastern Connecticut Health Network recommends that you “take a long, slow, deep breath to the count of five, then exhale slowly to the count of five. Imagine breathing out excess tension and breathing in relaxation.” All of these can be effective for your mental and physical well-being.

5. Understand that your problems may become overwhelming. Before he died in April 1945, war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote, “I’ve been immersed in it too long. My spirit is wobbly and my mind is confused. The hurt has become too great.” If this happens to you, seek counseling from a professional.