Tulsan to Head Office On Traumatic Stress

Tuesday, October 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA -- A University of Tulsa psychology professor will head a New York office aimed at helping media groups and journalists recognize traumatic stress disorder from covering the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Elana Newman, a leading researcher on the psychological effects of news work, will head the Dart Center Ground Zero Office, which opens in Manhattan in January and will operate through June.

The office is being funded by a $250,000 grant from the Dart Foundation of Mason, Mich., founder of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The New York office will collaborate with news groups and journalists on disaster coverage and help the industry recognize traumatic stress disorder from covering the aftermath of the attacks.

Symptoms of traumatic stress disorder can include nightmares, feeling numb inside, greater irritability, difficulty sleeping and being unable to avoid constantly thinking about the event.

"I see journalists as first responders just like firemen and policemen, and these are issues that have been addressed in other areas but not with journalists," Newman said Monday.

A New York native, Newman has conducted several studies on the effects of trauma on media members.

Studies have shown that few journalists exposed to such incidents develop a disorder, but those who do need to know where they can get help, she said.

Needs in New York include information about trauma, referrals for journalists to mental-health professionals and research, said Newman, who has been granted a leave by the University of Tulsa.

The Dart Foundation provides funds to study, train and support journalists who cover violent events.

Newman said New York journalists and news groups asked the Dart Center for help. A Seattle office will provide assistance to journalists until the New York office is open.