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Anadolu Agency trains war reporters on stress, trauma management

Journalists reporting latest developments in Russia-Ukraine war get training in Istanbul

Lale Bildirici Buyukkarakaya   | 15.05.2022
Anadolu Agency trains war reporters on stress, trauma management


ISTANBUL 

Anadolu Agency News Academy organized a stress and trauma management training for its war correspondents who have been reporting developments from the field since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

In the training held in a hotel in Istanbul, Prof. Kemal Sayar, a psychiatrist, gave theoretical information about trauma and explained the effects of trauma on human psychology.

Sayar said that trauma is encountered from time to time in daily life. 

He said that after the defeated coup of 2016 in Turkiye, people were startled by the sound of jets and helicopters for a long time. Similarly, he said, after the Aug. 17, 1999 earthquake, people used to rush out to the streets at the slightest thing.

Referring to the war reporters’ dangerous job in the battle field, Sayar said what helps the journalists to resist traumas and overcome the difficulties is the understanding that they are in the area exposed to risk.

“When the bomb explodes, you say: 'I do my job well. I came here knowing (the characteristics of my) job and these difficulties. Now I will do my job in the best possible way and leave.' At that time, you are not thinking about death. Thanks to that power, we are able to resist traumas and overcome those difficulties. The point is to look at how much we grow and how much we develop after the event we went through," Sayar said.

He said that trauma is a state of mental injury that exceeds a person's ability to endure.

Emphasizing that the war correspondents frequently face events that are not usually encountered in daily life, Sayar said that all these can cause fatigue for reporters.

“With fatigue, the person may no longer be able to fully perform his job, and may enter into spiritual burnout. Exposure to too much trauma also drains one's inner resources. It reduces the ability to cope with difficulties in daily life,” he said.

During the training, among the main aspects of discussion were dealing with trauma, post-traumatic growth, better management of trauma, as well as discussion on the subjective field experiences of reporters.


‘Trauma is earthquake of soul’

“The trauma is like an earthquake of the soul,” Sayar said, adding: “Trauma shakes up everything. One may not enjoy life. One may not be able to do (his/her) job with love and affection. Family and social relations may deteriorate.”

Sayar said he hopes this training organized by Anadolu Agency News Academy “will set an example” for other institutions. 

“The dissemination of such training for journalists in our country is an extremely positive initiative. This is something that is already happening in the West. You will encounter such trainings abroad in all major news outlets … Therefore, I see it as a very rational and logical step and I wish it to become widespread. I see it as an investment in people," he added.

Sayar went on to say that such a training will enable journalists not to get stuck with negative events, to develop mechanisms to overcome them, and to know what to do and what to expect when they encounter similar difficulties in the future. 

“Thus, it (training) will enable them to continue their profession, family life and social life in a better way,” he noted.


Supporting reporters

On the training program, Serdar Karagoz, Anadolu Agency’s director general, said that the most basic motivation of the journalism profession is to reveal the truth with all its nakedness.

“But we, above all else, are human beings with feelings and emotions. We are affected by disasters, the atmosphere of war, the deaths and injuries that occur before our eyes, exploding bombs, the sound of airplanes, and the smell of gunpowder,” Karagoz said.

Noting that Anadolu Agency correspondents recently followed developments in the “brutal war” in Ukraine, Karagoz said: “We care about supporting our reporter friends psychologically against all kinds of difficulties."

With its News Academy, Anadolu Agency also organizes its practical and theoretical training on media in a variety of areas, including on the latest developments in the news industry, social media, and the use of technology in journalism.

Anadolu Agency News Academy has also been providing journalists with War Journalism training, which was so far attended by at least 439 trainees, 156 of them from foreign countries.

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