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Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen
Location
New York, New York, USA
Birthday
June 03
Title
Author/Journalist
Company
Written for NY Times, W Post, Slate, Salon, Daily Beast. Publisher Twelve (Hachette)
Bio
An expanded paperback edition of my book COLUMBINE came out March 1, 2010. Links to the book and my bio below: http://www.davecullen.com/columbine.htm

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 12:50PM

How to interview a victim humanely--Today Show

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In December, I posted a video/blog post critiquing the disturbing interview of a victim on the Today Show. It was pretty awful, and riled a lot of you up.

This morning, I'm happy to report the flipside, on the same show. Watch how Ann Curry handles the end of this interview with a rattled mom, whose son committed suicide. I just clipped the end of the interview, so it runs just about 20 seconds:



Look how the mom reacts. She really needed that. She has a tough road ahead, and that moment could make a huge difference to her recovery. Having her pain and her actions validated that powerfully, and that publicly mean the world to many people in that situation.

Ann could have done it off the air, but then the woman's friends would never see it. She would not see it herself when she watched the tape again. For her, what happened on-air is the historical record. That is crucial.


Every reporter does not need to end every interview this way. It's a matter of instinct. And when your instincts say, This person needs support, give some.

I've learned a lot about empathetic reporting as a fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, which is part of the Columbia Journalism School, and the Dart Society, which is doing outreach. Click on their sites to learn more.

(I'm going to do an event with the Dart Society in Tucson in a couple weeks, about reporting the recent tragedy there. I'll have more info on that soon.)

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