Northern Ireland news

Guidelines aimed at creating 'trauma aware journalism'

Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson has said guidelines on media engagement for victims and survivors of theTroubles are long overdue

VICTIMS Commissioner Judith Thompson has said guidelines on media engagement for victims and survivors of theTroubles, should help create "trauma aware journalism" that will in turn encourage more people to tell their story.

Speaking at the launch of Guidelines for Victims & Survivors, a Roadmap for the Media, the commissioner said the guidelines were "long overdue".

"The media guidance contains sensible and practical advice that can assist individuals and families in their preparation, before, during and after conducting interviews with the media", said Ms Thompson.

Journalist Susan McKay interviewed a number of reporters and editors about their experience interviewing victims and survivors of the conflict to help put together guidance that has been approved by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Seamus Dooley of the NUJ said that "Media practitioners must always be mindful of the impact which coverage of such events can have on individuals and families".

More than 60 victims and those injured during the Troubles were also interviewed by researched from Queen's University Belfast about both their negative and positive experiences in dealing with the press.

The guidelines, giving practical advice to those who have no previous expedience of dealing with the media, have been endorsed by the Victims and Survivors Forum and the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma.

Paul Gallagher, who was left with life changing injuries after being shot by the UFF in 1994, said there was "an inherent need" for the guidelines pointing to his own experience of anger and distress after reading an inaccurate report about the gun attack that left him in a wheelchair.

Further information on the media guidelines can be found on victimsandthepast.org or through the Victims and Survivors Forum.

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