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.
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.