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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tacoma's City Club Hears Pioneering UW Researcher, Author and Advocate In Regards To Trauma And Journalists Who Cover Violence

Above: The City Club of Tacoma meeting took place at Tacoma's Landmark Convention Center. Photo copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

In connection with another project anchored to memories of my college years, l had occasion to recently type a manuscript containing the name of Professor Roger A. Simpson, who taught a class I took at the University of Washington's School of Communications during the middle 70's.

So I sat up at full attention when while idly thumbing through a copy of last week's edition of the Tacoma Weekly (Impact of Trauma On Journalists, September 11, 2008) when his name popped up in a little blurb advertising the next luncheon program at City Club of Tacoma!

Right : Theatre marque style sign at the Landmark welcomed luncheon-goers the day of Simpson's talk. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

According to the notice, the luncheon priced at $23.00 for members and $30.00 for non-members, would commence at noon on Wednesday, September 17, at the Landmark Convention Center. A phone number (253)272-9561 was listed to call for reservations.

The professor had been engaged to share what information has been collected in the last decade about the impact of of trauma on journalists whose news coverage violence and catastrophic events puts them not only into harms way - but on occasion into a role of a first responder.

Left: Landmark Convention Center set handsome stage for City Club of Tacoma luncheon. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

He would elaborate in turn how the journalists working in the news media, ironically enough as a profession had been at loss for the proper vocabulary in the profession to address the unspoken topic with each other in times past, have in more recent years moved to put the subject into it's training agenda.

Simpson is lead author of "Covering Violence: A Guide to Ethical Reporting about Victims and Trauma", was also founding director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the University of Washington, a global resource for journalists. Click for more details.

Above: Professor Roger A. Simpson, founder, UW Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma speaks to City Club of Tacoma members. Photo copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

As it has been some thirty years since I last heard Professor Simpson in person and the topic of trauma is one of which I've had a long-time personal interest, the chance opportunity afforded by the article in the Tacoma Weekly is one of those happy coincidences that should not be missed!

So accordingly I attended. The folks who make up City Club of Tacoma were a most cordial, kind, welcoming and congenial group. Simpson's address was front page! And the impromptu reunion? It's now an interval of space that sparkles forever.


JosephMcG said...

Thanks, Mizu, I did not know such a program existed... I followed up on the website as you suggested and found the description of the trauma curriculum very interesting...
wonderful pictures... and the post held my attention

Stephanie Frieze said...

Although I was at the U the same time as you, I don't remember Professor Simpson (but I don't remember much these days) and I was very interested to read your post. Journalists who cover violence, particularly wars, must suffer PTSD. Journalism is a demanding job that asks much from it's writers which is why I didn't go into the profession. As a mom, I wanted to be there for my children.

Mizu Sugimura said...

Joseph - I wasn't fully aware of this program until recently myself and the discovery that people have been working as diligently on creating such an entity is something I find extremely heartening.

However, it is also the kind of program and outlook that come from perspectives outside say, the narrow, economic pronouncements having to do with the bottom line that have sent so many who are active in the world to disclaim the responsibility for which we are in so many ways paying dearly.

The fact it came into being and has expanded beyond US borders is an achievement that can be celebrated regardless of what future unheavals in journalism, the media and all those who participate in what can be truly described as mass communications may bring.

Anytime a space is created in the fabric of creation it has the ability to be re-tapped in better times or so I'd like to believe.

Mizu Sugimura said...

Stephanie -

We must get together and trade some names. There's a real possibility we might have a few mutual folk between us. According to the UW website at the School of Communications, Professor Simpson received his Ph.D. from UW in 1973, something to keep in mind.

A friend of mine here in Federal Way (also is a Communications Alumni) and I also have fond memories of the late Professor Kenneth M. Jackson,
who taught an "Introduction to PR" class that I took.

Jackson died earlier this year. I wrote about him and another colorful teacher in the Music Department on my personal blog if you are ever interested.