Training for death knocks

Jon Slattery (Press Gazette , 14 January) argues that it is wrong
for police to ask journalists to leave “death knocks” to the
professionals.

This is not is a task which journalists can assume
they know how to do. The moment someone hears of the death of a
loved-one is often, literally, the most traumatic moment in that
person’s life.

The death knock assignment should never be given
to an untrained colleague, let alone a freshly-baked trainee as has
often been the case in the past.

At the Dart Centre for
Journalism and Trauma we now train journalists and senior editors how
to do this work –primarily for the increasingly common case of
colleagues being killed or seriously wounded doing their work, but from
a position which is equally relevant for a reporter.

Some of what we teach is obvious.

Much, however, is less so.

Readers
interested to know more of this training might wish to visit
www.dartcenter.org/articles/books/ breaking_bad_news_00.html

Mark Byrne, director Europe, Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma

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