BOB GARFIELD: We just heard Tom Wicker describe a situation of excruciating tension for a reporter. Roger Simpson, director of the Dart Center for Journalists and Drama has studied the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in journalists. He says that eventually practically all reporters will cover deeply disturbing events and most do not suffer psychic damage. But certain events more easily penetrate their defenses.
ROGER SIMPSON: We know from their accounts that they're extraordinarily troubled by incidents in which children are hurt or killed, in which there are kidnappings, in which there's hostage-taking. And we also know that in the organizations in which most American journalists work, there still is relatively little attention to those individuals who may have strong traumatic reactions. Reporters have told us in surveys that had someone in the newsroom talked for even a couple of minutes about what he or she would see at an auto accident, at a fire scene, at an explosion scene, at a plane crash scene, the reporter would have been better able to handle the effects of that exposure.
BOB GARFIELD:And news organizations -- are they bringing counselors into the newsroom? Are they making it easier for journalists to seek professional help outside the newsroom?
ROGER SIMPSON: We hear about this in situations like the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Columbine School Shooting in Colorado where the exposure of the staff is so obvious that counseling is clearly warranted and news organizations tend to respond there. But we also hear through stories of reporters and photographers that very often they're reluctant to take advantage of that. They're reluctant because they sometimes doubt there will be a confidential treatment of their access to the counselors, and they're reluctant because they don't want anyone to get the notion that they're unable to handle difficult assignments.
BOB GARFIELD: All right. Roger Simpson, thank you very much!
ROGER SIMPSON: Well thank you! I've enjoyed talking with you.
BOB GARFIELD: Roger Simpson is the director of the Dart Center for Journalists in Trauma.