Slaughter and sensitivity

We don’t know enough yet about Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to draw any conclusions about why he would launch a killing spree at Fort Hood.

Was it that Hasan, the psychiatrist had absorbed too much combat stress from the soldiers he counseled? Or did his interactions brew anger within? Or was he just evil?
We know nothing about the victims, either.
The story is sure to thicken with detail as the next few days progress and perhaps the ironies, too, will continue to grab headlines.
My irony is that I was amid a crowd of people who are specialists in stress and trauma when I began to learn the details of this story — long before I went to work at CNN Thursday night. I was at a reception thrown by the Dart Center on Journalism and Trauma, speaking with folks like Frank Ochberg, Alana Newman, Jonathan Shay and Bruce Shapiro, when the story was breaking.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies is meeting in Atlanta and Dart hosts its annual fellowships in sync with the conference. So that journalists are exposed to people who have devoted a lifetime to studying trauma.
My colleague Tom Watkins came running from CNN to see what he could find in this room rich with knowledge to add to our stories on the shooting. I just know that I had little inclination to work. My only desire was to soak up the humanity of these folks.
I’m thankful to be an Ochberg fellow, to be among journalists courageous enough to cover tough stories, even when it takes a toll on them. (More TK) While you watch the footage of the shooting, remember the cameraman or woman, the producer, the writer, the photographer who got close enough to tell the story with the depth and sensitivity it deserves.
And remember that journalists are people, too.

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