ENHANCING EMPATHY IN THE TRAUMA VICTIM INTERVIEW:
WHAT WAS LEARNED FROM JOURNALISM STUDENTS
Roger Simpson, Elizabeth Koehler, and Brennon Martin
School of Communications
University Of Washington, DS-40
Seattle, WA 98195
Roger Simpson <[log in to unmask]>
ENHANCING EMPATHY IN THE TRAUMA VICTIM INTERVIEW:
WHAT WAS LEARNED FROM JOURNALISM STUDENTS
This paper details the introduction of trauma interview
instruction to the journalism classroom. The study begins
by summarizing what has been learned from the academic and
trade literature, followed by an explanation of the role
play exercise, our principal method of investigation. The
findings support the value of the role play in classroom
instruction and suggest the need for careful training in
preparation for the trauma victim interview.
Enhancing Empathy in the Trauma Victim Interview
During Spring Quarter, 1994, the University of
Washington School of Communications introduced trauma
instruction into all of its print and broadcast journalism
courses, as well as journalism ethics and crisis public
relations courses. About 125 students heard about trauma's
effects, practiced interviewing trauma victims, and wrote
about traumatic events. The premise in developing the
trauma program was that since there is little
acknowledgement of trauma's effects in the news industry,
the optimum site for effective instruction may be the
college classroom.1 We reasoned that the absence of
knowledge about trauma could be a barrier to an empathic
response by the reporter.
The tragedy-scene interview was chosen as the principal
classroom exercise because it compels students to respond to
other persons in unfamiliar ways. A classroom scenario
placed student reporters at the scene of an attempted murder
and suicide where they confronted the adult children of the
victims. It was expected that as the scenario was played
out, the watching students would be on heightened alert to
notice both the resourcefulness and errors of their fellow
This paper describes the evaluative process and reports
the results of several efforts to learn what had occurred as
special attention was paid to trauma in the curriculum.
The intersection of trauma and journalism: literature review
Clinical understanding of trauma came of age in the era
that began with World War II and continued through the years
after the Vietnam conflict.2 Journalism evolved in that
same period from reportage of personal valor or sacrifice in
tragic circumstances to more sophisticated understanding of
war, violence, and natural disaster.
Understanding of the intersection of trauma and
journalism has developed slowly, however. While traumatic
events -- wars, earthquakes, fires, and murders -- remain
the mainstay of daily journalism, most reporters still treat
the afflicted in much the same way they did at mid-century.
While print journalism for the most part hides the
interchange between victim and reporter from public view,
television every day affirms the harsh, sometimes brutal,
character of the reporter interview with the traumatized
person. Indeed, the ambush interview sometimes produces a
state like trauma in the unsuspecting person as the audience
watches. Journalistic practice appears to assume that all
trauma survivors are equally ready to report their
experiences and mental state to the mass audience, a fact
directly contradicted by a substantial clinical literature.
The traumatized person, one who has experienced what a
mental-health specialist would call post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD), is affected by the event immediately. He
or she may suffer any or all of the conditions that occur in
the aftermath of tragedy and personal loss: Numbness may
block some awareness of the event, or the victim may deny
its reality; shame, rage, despair, anger and hatred may be
part of the victim's emotional response to the event;
memories of the event may force themselves repeatedly into
the consciousness of the survivor; anxiety may keep the
person nervous, edgy, and frightened.3 Judith Lewis Herman
has suggested how important this complex set of reactions
The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated,
uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George
Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our
century, called "doublethink," and which mental health
professions, searching for a calm, precise language
call "dissociation." It results in the protean,
dramatic, and often bizarre symptoms of hysteria which
Freud recognized a century ago as disguised
communications about sexual abuse in childhood.4
The typical trauma victim, in the hours and days after
the event, responds to strangers, such as journalists,
differently than he or she would in normal circumstances.
And the effects don't disappear at once; trauma continues to
affect the survivor over a long period. As long as six
months after the event, nearly half of all victims still
experience some symptoms of PTSD.5 There is substantial
evidence that the witness, as well as the victim, is changed
by the event. He or she has trouble finding adequate
language to describe events and shares the victim's fear of
being stigmatized and isolated by identification with the
The reporter's conventional demand on both victim and
witness ignores this reality. The journalist's questions
are direct, clearly expressing a desire for information and
an assumption that the other person can easily be
forthcoming. The exchange is framed by a linear, logical
description of the event. The reporter assumes that she or
he is in control of the situation; the victim and witness
are assumed to be in control of their circumstances also.
In fact, though, the traumatic event may exert its influence
on all those involved in the reporting process -- reporter,
victim, and witness.
Few reporting textbooks even mention trauma's power;
some give reporters tips on getting sources to talk,
implying that reporter and source are equally able to
respond to the event. One widely used textbook does not
mention trauma, but hints at its effects. Melvin Mencher,
in a short chapter on covering accidents and disasters,
comments on interviewing witnesses:
Eyewitness accounts should be treated with care,
especially if they are of events that unfold rapidly,
and particularly if the witness to the event is
emotionally involved. Studies of eyewitnesses of
crimes have shown that their reports are incomplete,
sometimes unreliable and often incorrect.7
While the text offers tips on helping a witness recall an
incident, it says nothing about the emotional experience of
Research and trade journals carried little literature
either on the introduction of trauma reporting to the
classroom or on the effects of trauma in the reporting
process in the past ten years. Although there was a
substantial amount of anecdotal evidence about trauma and
journalism, two studies addressed these issues empirically.
Andrew Freinkel, et al., concluded that the
dissociative symptoms experienced by reporters who witnessed
the violence of an execution (in which there was no risk of
harm to the witnesses, that was socially sanctioned, and for
which they could plan and psychologically prepare
themselves) were similar to the symptoms of people who had
endured a natural disaster.8 While none of the journalists
reported long-lasting trauma, many reported some short-term
impact on their lives.
The second study showed those subjects who had attended
a workshop on the effects of PTSD "had a greater knowledge,
were more accepting, and were more facilitative with people
who have PTSD."9 Although the subjects were professional
counselors, the results suggest that reporters also might
respond differently to people with symptoms of PTSD if they
first received classroom instruction.
Trade literature provides anecdotal evidence that
reporters confront trauma, without offering much analytical
insight. The Los Angeles riots, the San Francisco
earthquake, and the Challenger disaster have spawned
articles by reporters that illuminate either personal or
group responses to reporting about trauma. One assignment
in the 1960s changed the direction of the life of the
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Serrin. Serrin
told a writer about covering the 1967 Detroit riot:
But the riot sort of changed my life. I really began
to distrust cops and other authorities and I had not
had that experience in journalism before.... Before
the riot a lot of my goals were things like to rise in
journalism, go to Vietnam.... The story was right
here, not in Washington or Paris or Vietnam....10
Less common are the articles that reveal the effects of
covering the day-to-day violence that is found on the police
beat. Cheever Griffin described his experiences as a police-
beat reporter in Chicago:
It was on that summer night that I realized how
accustomed to death I had grown in a short period of
time. Less than six months earlier I had been handing
in feature stories for a grade.... True I am only 24
years old, supposedly too young to be jaded. But since
I took this job, I have learned to elevate myself above
the tragedy. I haven't been able to separate myself
from it though. Death is not cheap; rather it always
seems to leave a room full of people who weep and cry
out and wonder how they will go on. Every death is a
story whether City News thinks so or not.11
Alf Pratte's study of journalists who killed themselves
"...shows that some journalists who have contemplated
suicide and written about it were intimately exposed to
death as part of their experience on the police beat [or] as
The literature suggests four objectives for the
introduction of trauma reporting to the classroom: (1)
identification of the symptoms of trauma, (2) recognition of
a possible "residual trauma" to the reporter from exposure
to an incident, (3) strategies for interviewing traumatized
individuals, and (4) consideration of ethical issues related
to the coverage of trauma and the interview process.
Role-playing the interview
Given these objectives and the importance of the
interview in the gathering of news, the interview, the
interaction between journalist and victim, was chosen as the
vehicle by which many of these issues would be introduced.
The following section describes the classroom methods in
The journalistic interview has been called "a central
tool in the journalistic profession," and "a medium of
important social influence and potential social impact."13
According to the seminal work by Eugene Webb and Jerry
Salancik, of the four main techniques used by reporters to
gather information (observation, records, tips and
interviewing), interviewing is "the most perilous and
unreliable method."14 The journalistic interview is
frequently a battle of wits, occasionally adversarial and
very often unwelcome. Add to this already awkward situation
the complication of an interviewee who just has been
traumatized, and you have a prescription for further
traumatization. How best, then, to educate journalists
about the complexities of such situations?
The role-play has been used by educators for years to
create "controlled spontaneity" in the classroom. The
pedagogical value of the role-play has been confirmed.
Silverman, for example, found that college students retain
"10 percent of what they read; 26 percent of what they hear;
30 percent of what they see; 50 percent of what they see and
hear; 70 percent of what they say; and 90 percent of what
they say as they do something."15 There is a sense of drama
in the classroom during such exercises, as no one -- not
even the instructor -- knows what the outcome of the
assignment will be. A study of the effectiveness of the
role-play exercise in teaching graduate-level psychological
consultant interviewing skills showed that role-play
exercises were "far more effective than discussion
activities" in facilitating student acquisition of competent
interviewing skills.16 Although there are certainly many
differences between clinical interviews and journalistic
ones, "all interviews involve interpersonal communication
aimed at eliciting information."17 The role-play has been
described as combining "means-centered instruction with
problem-centered work" -- a way to focus on the process of
reporting and interviewing in a problematic situation,
wherein "`rights' and `wrongs' are not highly
specifiable."18 Thus, it was reasoned that if the role-play
is effective in teaching clinical interviewing skills, it
also would be useful in teaching journalistic interviewing
The spontaneity and uncertainty of a good role-play
exercise mirror the spontaneity and uncertainty of the world
outside the classroom.19 It was therefore viewed as an
invaluable tool in teaching aspiring reporters about the art
of interviewing -- especially in the face of trauma, where
right and wrong depend so much on the circumstances and the
particular individuals involved.
Three graduate students agreed to play the bereaved
individuals in the role-play; the undergraduate students
were to play reporters sent to interview them. The graduate
students were not trained actors or drama students. The
actors read a briefing sheet, based on information provided
by the staff of Virginia Mason Medical Center Separation and
Loss Clinic. The sheet describes the stages of the grieving
process and suggests coping strategies for those going
through this process. We felt that a realistic role-play
depended on our actors being able to immerse themselves in
the role of bereaved individuals. (See Appendix A.)
The role-play called for two actors to exemplify two
coping mechanisms we wanted students to encounter.20 One
actor portrayed a stunned, dazed and "zombie-like" person.
There appears to be an absence of feelings in those coping
in this manner, and they usually try to focus on facts and
taking care of immediate problems, deflecting any personal
emotion. One who copes in this manner appears to be
handling things quite well but often ends up most
traumatized many months later. The other actor portrayed an
hysterical individual. Those coping with grief in this
manner often feel a need to move around and get fresh air.
They often experience dizziness and/or panic, and show a
tendency to sob, weep, or wail openly.
We wanted the scenario to be as real as possible
without becoming too complicated. The scenario was based
loosely on an incident that occurred in Milwaukee in 1987.
The interviewees were the children of an older couple who
were shot in their home. In the scenario (see Appendix B),
the police tell reporters it appears the husband shot his
wife, then turned the gun on himself. He is dead; she is
being taken to a nearby hospital. The children (in their
thirties) are unaware of the trouble when they approach the
home to have dinner with their parents. In shock, they
attempt to cross the police line. They are stopped by a
detective who explains that no one is allowed to cross the
police line, but that he will find some help for them. In
the moment they stand there alone, they confront a reporter
who has just arrived at the scene, seeking information about
To learn as much about the role-play as possible,
volunteers in some of the classes took part in the role-play
outside of the class and without receiving any orientation
to trauma. Those interviews, as well as those conducted in
classes, were videotaped. In the classes, other students
volunteered or were chosen to be reporters, and were given
about ten minutes to prepare for the interview. When the
role-play began, it was run three times, each student
volunteer having an opportunity to conduct the interview on
his or her own, without interference from the other
Although the periods of time devoted to trauma
instruction varied by course from one hour to four hours, a
single format was used for all classes. In advance of class
meetings, students read an article on the nature of
trauma.22 Staff members from Virginia Mason Medical
Center's Separation and Loss Clinic and Harborview Medical
Center, both in Seattle, spoke about the effects of trauma,
the process of grieving and the problems bereaved
individuals often face in dealing with "the system,"
including police, the courts, hospitals, and journalists.23
Role plays were conducted, followed by group discussion
involving actors, students, and visiting experts. (The
various activities in the instruction unit simply expanded
to fill the time allotted by the course instructor.)
Assessing trauma instruction
Three means were used to assess the value of the
instruction and the role-play. (1) Students were given
brief questionnaires before and after the presentation and
role-play and were invited to comment on the exercise in
oral discussions conducted after each role-play. (2) The
actors were interviewed at length about their responses to
the exercise. (3) A videotape record was kept of each role-
play. This paper reports on the first two forms of feedback
The most noticeable change from the pretest to the post-
test was that students, overall, became overly sensitized to
trauma. For instance, a psychiatrist had noted during the
orientation that 45 percent of those involved in traumatic
situations will remain symptomatic six months later. On the
pretest, nearly 40 percent of students answered this
multiple-choice question correctly, and 30 percent of the
students thought the number would be higher than 45 percent.
However, after the presentations and role-play, only 25
percent of the students answered this question correctly;
the other 75 percent thought the number would be higher.
Female and male students agreed on almost everything,
percentages varying only slightly. However, prior to
training, male students were more likely to underestimate
the long-term effects of trauma. Before witnessing the
presentations and role-plays, 72 percent of female students
felt either 45 percent or 90 percent of traumatized
individuals would remain symptomatic six months after the
incident; just 57 percent of the male students felt the same
way. (Forty-five was the percentage given in orientations
by the Virginia Mason staff; 45 and 90 were the two highest
percentages on a list of five choices.) There appeared to
be an even stronger response from those who had taken part
in the role-play; all eight role-players chose the 90
One of the teaching points embedded in the role-plays
was the idea that possibly the best thing a reporter could
do is to recognize the victim's shock and delay an interview
until the victim would have more control over the
circumstances. One suggestion repeatedly made was that the
reporter might give the interviewees his or her card, and
then leave. The interviewees, appreciating this level of
respect, would be more likely to give that reporter a better
story in the end. In the pre-test, 60 percent of the
students seemed already to understand this. However, in the
post-test, students were presented with a scenario very much
like the one they had witnessed in class and were asked to
number five choices in order of desirability. The
suggestion of leaving a business card with the interviewees
ranked high, but not first. Topping the students' choices
was offering to take the interviewees to the hospital (where
the interviewees' mother was taken after being shot).
Students unanimously rejected the suggestion that the
reporter should "insist the interviewee answer your
questions because your deadline is near."
A control group's answers on the post-test were very
similar to the answers of the students who witnessed the
presentations and role-plays. The control group, however,
was less sure that an interview would ever be welcomed by a
traumatized individual (the experts emphasized in their
orientations that it often is welcomed in the aftermath of
an unsolved crime).
In the post-test, students were asked two open-ended
questions: (1) What were your reactions, feelings or
thoughts as you watched or participated in the role-playing
of interviews of trauma victims? and (2) Suggest one or two
things that a working reporter could do to prevent further
traumatization of survivors. An analysis of the responses
Question #1 Non-players (n = Players (n = 8)
Anxiety for 9 6
Anxiety for self 8 5
Anxiety for 5
Exercise helpful 3 1
but not realistic
Exercise increased 2 2
Felt "contagion" 1
Question #2 Non-players Players
Respect 16 1
Offer help of some 11 4
Listen 2 1
Minimize further 2 2
Get facts elsewhere 2
Give victims 1
Guard own 1
Say you're helping 1
them tell their
Of the 32 non-players who responded, 16 answered that
they felt some sort of anxiety as a result of the exercise.
Some said they were anxious or uncomfortable over the
situation, their classmates, or themselves while some noted
anxiety for a combination of factors. Some observers
identified strongly with the victims and the reporters:
"...a feeling of helplessness and bewilderment. I
had no idea what to do or say and I'm glad that I
didn't volunteer to play a reporter. I had no idea how
difficult that situation would be."
"[I was] uncomfortable. I thought it was an
inappropriate time for a reporter to intervene."
"I was concerned about how aggressive the reporter
was being. I wanted the people to be comforted more."
"I was hoping the man would not go berserk and
harm the reporter. I felt sympathetic; I wanted it all
to be over for the reporter."
Of the students who participated in the role play as
reporters, all eight expressed some form of anxiety. These
students offered some of the more thoughtful responses:
"[I was] nervous because I had never interviewed
before. I felt badly for the `victims.' I also felt
like I was intruding upon something `private.'"
"My first thought is to just leave them alone, but
I need info for my story so I need to pursue it. I
didn't know what questions to ask or what questions
were appropriate or inappropriate."
"I wasn't sure if my questions were too pushy or
insensitive. I think this was an excellent exercise.
It really opened my eyes to what victims go through."
"I tried to remain calm and kept a helpful tone
throughout, yet never felt comfortable `invading' their
time of grief."
"The class sessions were somewhat helpful, but I
still don't feel prepared to interact with trauma
The graduate-student actors reported the stressful
character of the project as they worked; months later, they
revealed readily how difficult it had been to repeat the
exercise.24 For two of the three actors, stresses in
personal lives compounded the effects of the role-playing.
The male actor's performance contributed a great deal
of the sense of realism to the exercise. Loud remarks,
nervous pacing, rapid movements, and confrontational
comments marked his responses to student "reporters."
Neither the instructor nor the students, however, knew that
he was preoccupied with stress over personal matters; he
later admitted that at times he channeled his emotions into
the role of murder-victim's son. He also later recalled
being "shaky and nervous" after each demonstration.
One of the two women actors also played out the role
several times without revealing to the instructor that she
was experiencing unusual stress because of non-academic
matters. The end of a relationship and fears about the
security of her home, when combined with the realistic role-
play, left symptoms at the time and nearly a year later.
She reported having difficulty sleeping at the time,
heightened reactions to the other participants in the
exercise, including anger at what she took to be
inappropriate behavior. Months later, the prospect of being
interviewed about the role-plays created a stressful
reaction similar to that experienced at the time.
For the second female actor, the stress of the role-
play faded more quickly, perhaps within an hour. All three
actors recalled at least one incident of feeling intense
anger toward some participant in the exercise. In one case,
the object was an ill-prepared student who simply refused to
play the role and instead mugged for the classroom audience.
"I was angry at that smart-aleck student, . . . so furious
at her. She was so insensitive." Another actor experienced
strong anger when an instructor criticized a student without
justification. "I had bad feelings -- I was ready to
strangle him -- bad feelings inside me."
The actors singled out one "reporter," a woman with
considerable newspaper experience, as "most effective"
because she offered help and kept up a conversation with the
actors. "It wasn't so much what was said, but you felt
comforted," one actor said. They observed that when
reporters were able to convey some empathy by concentrating
on the victims, the acting was easier. "I forgot people were
interviewing us," one actor said. Conversely, the actors
and the acting were affected by immature responses or "a
mechanical spiel of questions."
Actors also noticed that student reporters responded
differently to the three pairings of the "victims." When
the two women were together, one cried while the other
stoically faced the crisis. Often the "crier" was left
alone, while the stoic woman was questioned. A brother-
sister pairing in the scenario was more likely to draw the
reporter's attention to both actors; in a husband-wife
pairing, the reporter always questioned the male actor and
ignored his partner.
All means of assessment supported the use of the trauma
role-play in journalism classrooms. Students and actors
absorbed some of the stress of the murder scene, even though
the incident was hypothethical, and as a result readily
discussed issues in the incident, including reporter
behavior, event realism, ethical concerns, and treatment of
the incident in a written or broadcast story.
Although classroom discussion was not analyzed for this
paper, it can be said informally that whatever time was
allotted for debriefing the students, ranging from 30
minutes to two hours, was consumed by intense discussion.
The exercise, in conveying information about the nature
of post-traumatic stress disorder, also alerted students to
the persistence of symptoms related to trauma in their own
lives or in those close to them. While it was the purpose
of the exercise to acquaint future journalists with the
symptoms their news sources might exhibit, it also seems
apparent that some students benefit at the time of the
exercise because of previous experiences.
The exercise was revised in subsequent terms because of
the feedback gained in these assessment activities. It was
decided, for example, to screen prospective actors for
unusually stressful events or circumstances and to monitor
actors for unexpected stressful events.
In subsequent terms, instruction was elaborated to
include specific attention to rape and students were given
more elaborate information packets to cover more dimensions
of both trauma and rape. The changes reflected our
awareness of the need to focus on rape separately from PTSD.
Speakers are drawn from rape-assistance organizations,
police department victim-assistance programs, and medical
centers. Supplementary information now includes lists of
resources for both trauma and rape, laws on rape, local and
national statistics, terminology, campus policies, and a
The students' written responses suggest that at least
some of the students involved in the exercise, either as
participants or observers, experienced some psychological
reaction as a result of the interaction with the "victims."
The fact that this reaction resulted from a role play,
essentially a hypothetical exercise, demonstrates the
strength of the role play as a teaching tool. The
experience raises a question for further research: What are
the effects on reporters who experience trauma or who
interview trauma victims? While instructors must proceed
cautiously in this area, with due regard to their students,
our experience strongly supports the value of educating
journalists about trauma by means of interview role plays,
framed by clear information about the disorder and followed,
as often as possible, by effective discussion.
Fundamentally, there are two kinds of grief:
-stunned, dazed, overwhelmed, reaction times seem to slow
-shortness of breath, problems in speaking, unable to cry,
-on "auto pilot," experiences a sense of unreality
-absence of feeling...a certain flatness, zombie like
-says things like, "I'm fine." ... "I'm all right."
-focuses on facts or immediate problem, deflecting from
-needs to move around, get fresh air
-feels dizzy, panicky
-feels as though things are happening too fast
-shows a tendency to cry, sob, weep or wail
All bereaved individuals may experience feelings of
frustration and anger, helplessness or fear for their own
lives. They also may experience problems concentrating.
Possible physical problems for anyone having undergone
sudden and unexpected trauma include chills, headaches,
heart flutters, hot flashes, knots in stomach, lowered
resistance to disease, nausea, nervousness and tension, and
tightness in neck and back.
For the victim's family, the world looks different;
others seem to be carrying on with "life as usual." This
can make the world seem callous, cold, dull, frightening,
indifferent, uncaring and unreal. A common but often
unexpressed feeling among the bereaved is their wish to say
to the world, "Don't you understand that my life has been
turned upside down and that everything is different?"
Often in the case of a suicide or homicide, the
bereaved feels responsible, as though there is something he
or she could have done to prevent the death of the loved
one. In addition, parents who have lost children are often
treated by others as lepers, as if the death of a child is
The method of questioning used by reporters to obtain
information often makes the bereaved feel uncomfortable and
intimidated. Keep in mind that other people the bereaved
has to deal with also may make them feel uncomfortable --
medical examiner, funeral director, police, lawyers, curious
onlookers, etc. Material may be gathered as evidence after
a homicide and held until the investigation is concluded.
The investigation may take longer than the bereaved would
want it to. The police may not always act on information
the victims' relatives provide. The and other complications
can cause much anxiety.
It is 5:15 p.m. You are a reporter for the local newspaper
or TV station. A police scanner in one corner of the news
room suddenly begins to squawk excitedly. The police have
been called to the scene of an apparent murder-suicide on
the south side of town.
You and your photographer/camera person are among the first
to arrive at the house where the deaths took place. You are
not permitted to approach the scene. After awhile, a
detective emerges from the house and confirms to reporters
there has been one violent death inside the house. Another
person was shot twice in the chest, but is still alive. An
ambulance is on the scene. The investigation continues, he
says, but right now it appears that a man shot his wife and
then turned the gun on himself; he is dead, but she is not.
The detective says the two have been identified, but he will
not release their names because the next-of-kin have not yet
been notified of the death.
A short time later, a man and woman in their thirties (or
two women in their thirties) approach the scene, looking
confused and alarmed. They attempt to cross the police
line, but are held back by police. Standing nearby, you
hear the two explain to the police that they've just come to
visit their parents, who live in the house. They demand to
know what's going on. The medical examiner is on the scene
and rushes over to talk to them for a few minutes. They
again try to push toward the house, asking to see the scene,
but are held back. They are told there has been an
attempted murder-suicide inside the house and are asked to
wait outside the police line for further information (along
with you, representatives of other news organizations, and
curious neighbors). The two protest, but the police calmly
explain the scene of a crime cannot be disturbed and they
must stand back. They then huddle together on the edge of
the police line, waiting.
You have to file/transmit your story in 20 minutes. You
know you must at least attempt to interview the two. Go
1 The University of Washington project is a collaboration
with the "Victims and the Media Program" of the College of
Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University.
2 Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York:
HarperCollins Publishers, 1992).
3 Frank M. Ochberg, M.D., "The Victim of Violent Crime,"
Communicator (Radio-Television News Directors Association),
December, 1987, p. 13.
4 Herman, pp. 1-2.
5 Interview with Edward Rynearson, M.D., Virginia Mason
Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, April, 1994.
6 Herman, p. 2.
7 News Reporting and Writing, 6th ed. (Madison, WI:
WCBrown & Benchmark, 1994),
8 Andrew Freinkel, M.D., Cheryl Koopman, Ph.D., and David
Spiegel, M.D., "Dissociative Symptoms in Media Eyewitnesses
of an Execution," American Journal of Psychiatry, September,
1994, p. 1335.
9 Joseph Richard Dispenza, "An Assessment of the
Effectiveness of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Workshop
on Human Services Professionals' Knowledge, Attitudes, and
Facilitative Functioning," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation,
State University of New York at Buffalo, 1991.
10 Karen Rothmyer, "The Crucible; The Journalist's Life:
William Serrin" Columbia Journalism Review, January/February
1991, p. 39.
11 "Where Death Isn't Cheap," American Journalism Review,
July/August 1993, p. 31.
12 Alf Pratte, "Suicide and Journalism," Editor &
Publisher, February 22, 1992, p. 44 (refers to study
reported at West Coast Journalism Historians Conference,
13 Akiba A. Cohen, The Television News Interview, The Sage
CommText Series (Newbury, Calif.: Sage Publications inc.,
1987), pp. 10 and 22.
14 Eugene J. Webb and Jerry R. Salancik, "The Interview or
the Only Wheel in Town," Journalism Monographs, no. 2
(November 1966): p. 1.
15 L. Silverman, "Global Learners: Our Forgotten Gifted
Children," paper presented at the Seventh World Conference
on Gifted and Talented Children, Salt Lake City, Utah, as
described in Devorah A. Lieberman, "Ethnocognitivism,
Problem Solving and Hemisphericity," in L. Sarrovar and R.
Porter, eds., Intercultural Communication: A Reader. Seventh
Edition. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994), p. 185.
16 Henry K. Errek and Daniel Lee Randolph, "Effects of
Discussion and Role-Play Activities in the Acquisition of
Consultant Interview Skills," Journal of Counseling
Psychology 29 (1982), pp. 304-308.
17 Cohen, p. 13.
18 Albert D. Talbott, William J. Zima and Ruth McCorkle,
"A News Game Called TRIO: A Task for Reporting, Interviewing
and Observing," paper presented in the Newspaper Division of
the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication, San Diego, August, 1974. ERIC, ED 095 564.
19 Richard Peters, "Modeling to Enhance Critical Thinking
and Decision Making Skills Development in the Instruction
Process: The Social Studies,"a compilation of presentations
during 19087 at various conferences on critical thinking and
decision making. ERIC, ED 287 781.
20 One female student took part in all of the exercises.
The other person was played either by another woman or the
male student, depending on who was available.
21 The scenario was criticized by one instructor who
argued that the victims' family members usually would not be
left alone by the police. Although the criticism may have
merit, our interest was in the learning that results when
the student has to talk to someone who is suffering trauma.
23 Speakers included Edward Rynearson, M.D., Psychiatry
Department and Separation and Loss Services; John
Purrington, director, Separation and Loss; Cindy Sinnema,
Separation and Loss; and Billie Lawson, Harborview Medical
24 The "actors" were not interviewed as a group until
February 16, 1995. Each of the three reported reactions
informally while the classroom presentations were taking
25 See Carolyn M. Byerly, "An Agenda for Teaching News
Coverage of Rape," Journalism Educator (Spring, 1994), pp.