I’ve grown weary of the ceaseless onslaught of criticism of journalism, especially from those who seem to derive their critique solely from their politics. Not only is it shallow and myopic, I worry that the good work of reporters is lost in the blitz — good, solid work day-in and day-out. Like the reporting of NPR’s Debbie Elliott.
I was reminded of her dedication to the craft back in November when a shooter entered a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, opened fire, and killed 26 people – including children. Debbie was one of a team of people sent by NPR to cover the tragedy. As I listened to her reports on NPR, I wondered: How do you do that? How do you, a stranger with a microphone, show up to a small, traumatized town and ask questions? As Debbie told me in this episode of HowSound, “In some ways you feel like this pariah who is here at this darkest moment for this town and you’ve got your microphone out trying to get the story.”
Debbie’s reported on many traumatic events. Hurricane Harvey, for one. The marches in Charlottesville, for another. Along the way, she learned a quite a few strategies to avoid being a pariah. She lays out some of them on HowSound.
If you expect to report a distressful story, be sure to visit the website for the Dart Center for Trauma and Reporting. They are an incredible resource. Here are a few other resources here at Transom: