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.