Escalating trauma for journalists | More on the downfall of Caliphate | Reporting on homeless deaths

Escalating trauma for journalists: The past year has been eventful, to say the least, and it’s taking a psychological toll on journalists, writes Sarah Scire in Nieman Lab. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, an organization that focuses on educating journalists on the impacts of trauma, has expanded its outreach in the past year as journalists grapple with the consequences of reporting on an unrelenting string of impactful events including the pandemic, mass shootings, racial injustice, and countless others. Though the Dart Center can’t hold in-person events, they have had success in their online conversations and have found a “surprising degree of intimacy” in addressing the stress of reporting in an especially difficult global moment, says Scire. 

More on the downfall of Caliphate: In the fall of 2020, the popular New York Times podcast “Caliphate” was debunked after investigation showed that Shehroze Chaudhry, the interviewee that the podcast had been centered around, had never actually been involved with the Islamic state, says James Harkin in Harper’s Magazine. This incident reveals the dangers of internet reporting, writes Harkin. Podcast host Rukmini Callimachi had relied heavily in her terror reporting on jihadist social media, but failed to distinguish between ISIS sympathizers and militants and made other errors in judgement. According to Harkin, the New York Times itself did not use enough scrutiny before publishing the podcast, a mistake that has been repeated throughout Western news organizations in reporting on terror. “Strong journalism requires on-the-ground expertise and skepticism as much as great characters and slick narratives,” writes Harkin. 

Reporting on homeless deaths: There’s been a gap in reporting on homelessness and the deaths of those experiencing homelessness, says Hannah Coogans in Global Investigative Journalism Network. In 2017, UK reporter Maeve McClenaghan found that there was no data on the number of people who die each year while homeless. McClenaghan, along with over a thousand other reporters, then worked on the Dying Homeless Project, investigating homeless deaths in the UK over the course of 18 months. The reports on the deaths focused on both numbers and individual stories, making sure to memorialize the deceased rather than just use them as data, says Coogans. McClenaghan recommends that others continue with this kind of practice: when there is a gap in knowledge or data, it should be seen as an opportunity to research and follow-up, not as a discouragement from reporting. 

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