Diving into The Unthinkable

I am in a course this semester called “Reporting on Traumatic Events,” taught by my editor, Katherine Reed. We are looking into not only how to interview victims of traumatic events, but the trauma journalists can experience by telling these people’s stories. One on the components of this class is to blog twice a week about our reading and news topics. My assigned topic that I will be following all semester, as well as writing a (massive) term paper on: shootings in public spaces with multiple victims. As in school shootings.

School shootings.
Oh my god.

I have so many opinions about the politics of shooting aftermaths. I also get super overwhelmed with the idea of 12-year-old walking into his school and opening fire. How am I going to interview a survivor of a shooting without crying or breaking down?

I guess that’s the point of the course: To teach us and guide us through the ever-delicate experience of talking to survivors.

Our reading for this course is incredibly interesting. I’ve started into “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes” by Amanda Ripley, and it reads like a page-turner novel. The first traumatic event discussed in the Mont Blanc explosion in 1917 in Halifax. The series of awful events is jaw-dropping. Just as jaw-dropping is the conclusion that Ripley comes to:

Having studied dozens of plane crashes, I’m more relaxed when I’m flying. And no matter how many Code-Orange-be-afraid-be-very-afraid alerts I see on the evening news, I feel some amount of peace having already glimpsed the worst-case scenario. The truth, it turns out, is usually better than the nightmare.

Even though that’s a terrifying thought, it is oddly soothing. Nothing that I experience will be as bad as the chaos that my imagination creates.

So that’s a good thing…

Stay tuned for more trauma-related posts. I’ll categorize them under “J4301 Posts,” if you’re interested.


8 thoughts on “Diving into The Unthinkable

  1. Hi 🙂 I follow your blog and I was reading this post and I sort of understood that you are a journalist. Is that right? I’m just asking because I’m in highschool and I’m confused about what I shoul be and what I should study in college. I always though that journalism was a good option. I mean, not all of the areas, I’m more interested in particular areas. If you really are a journalist, what kinf of jobs do you do? (I’m sorry if I made any mistakes but I’m portuguese and I’m a better speaker than writter)

    1. Hello! I am hoping to go into newspaper writing and reporting. I have worked for the city paper as both a reporter and a copy editor. There are lots of different emphasis areas within journalism, though, and you can really focus on something you love! What areas are you interested in?

      1. I’m not quite sure yet. I love reading columns , but I know that journalism is way more than that. I like writing, but I prefer speaking and presenting news, but I don’t imagine myself on the TV newscast. It’s still really confusing. I need to research about it. Maybe if a try a internship I would understand it better, but here it is not like that

      2. I would look into internships that let you vlog or blog for them! Also, I would contact my friend Elise at eliseslightbulb.wordpress.com as well — she speaks some Portuguese and is a journalism major too.

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