Franklin College symposium to focus on journalists and trauma

Editor’s note: The Daily Journal’s Emily Ketterer, a Franklin College alumna, will also participate in two panel discussions.

The rates for journalists’ post-traumatic stress disorder can range anywhere from 4 to 59%, which is just one reason Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and the Trust for Trauma Journalism are collaborating to host a two-day event to discuss the implications of trauma and how journalists handle it in their professional and personal lives.

The event is Oct. 20-21 at the college in Franklin, Indiana, and registration is $125 for in-person professionals, $25 for virtual professionals and $25 for students.

Students, professional journalists and psychiatric experts from around the country will come together for panels and breakout discussions about the challenges of covering traumatic events, trauma awareness, journalists’ emotional wounds, peer support and more.

Speakers at the event include:

  • Linsey Davis of ABC World News Tonight and News Live Prime.
  • Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, M.D., a pioneer in the treatment of traumatic stress.
  • Bestselling author Dave Cullen, whose books include “Columbine” and “Parkland, Birth of a Movement.”
  • Tanya Gordiienko, a Ukranian media analyst, Ph.D student at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy School of Journalism, and visiting researcher from Purdue University Brian Lamb School of Communication and Purdue Policy Research Institute.
  • Matthew Pearson, a journalist and assistant professor at Canada’s Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication.
  • Nick Schifrin, a correspondent for PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense.

Ochberg, who helped develop the Trust for Trauma Journalism, said that after being asked to address a group of reporters at an event several years ago, he realized journalists face serious challenges—similar to the police force and military—but often don’t know know to deal with it.

“They were at least a decade behind in terms of taking care of their own mental health and understanding that a journalist is a first responder, just like a firefighter, just like a police officer, just like someone in active-duty in the military,” Ochberg said. “And there are journalists who are brave, who are motivated, and they go right into harm’s way to report a story.”

Ochberg said he enjoys seeing young people self-motivated to work in journalism despite the challenges because it matters to them personally, not because they think they’re going to make a lot of money or gain prestige. He said those unselfish reasons are what the heart of journalism is. will have more coverage of the event at a later date.

Sydney Byerly is a reporter at, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.