Day of Dart

This post describes the Dart Society reunion I attended last month. Named after eminent psychiatrist Dr. Frank Ochberg, he fellows supports journalists who cover issues of trauma and violence to help them both tells stories about those issues with sensitivity and compassion and to deal with the emotional consequences of doing that work.

I’m here in Indianapolis for a Dart Society reunion.

It’s a remarkable group, and I feel highly privileged to be part of the group.

Last year I had the honor to be an Ochberg Fellow.

The Dart Center is an organization that works to support journalists who cover issues of violence and trauma.

The support can take many forms.

For some journalists, it’s helping them grapple with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from covering the unspeakable horrors that we as humans do to each other. For others, it’s providing resources to cover trauma and violence in humane, sensitive and informative ways that illustrate people’s capacity for resilience and survival.

For still others, it’s strategizing about how to get these stories onto the pages, airwaves or screens of their news organizations.

The fellowships are named for Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist who is perhaps best known for his research led to the coining of the phrase, “the Stockholm Syndrome.“ Frank has been one of the guiding forces behind the Dart Center since its inception.

The group has a dizzying and humbling array of talent from Australia, England, New Zealand, Georgia and Colombia, among other countries.

Dart Fellows have covered trauma across the world, from the Oklahoma City bombings to the September 11 terrorist attacks to wars in Iraq Afghanistan, civil unrest in Haiti, the genocide in Rwanda.

Many risk their lives to do their work.

Last year, John Moore, a photographer who took iconic photographs of Benazir Bhutto just before and right after her assassination and who has worked in dozen of countries around the globe, told me he puts himself in these situations not because he is an adrenaline junkie, but because he knows that few, if any, other people will record these stories if he does not.

Dart fellow cover stories in the U.S., too.

Fellows have also written and photographed and done radio projects about domestic violence, about murder in Detroit, and about a the death of a 19-year-old Native American man named Mylo Harvey during a struggle with police.

Among some of the many, many outstanding journalists: Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, the definitive work about the 1999 massacre of more than a dozen students by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

I wrote about Dave’s book earlier this year.

There’s also Bruce Shapiro, the Center’s executive director, who wrote a very powerful essay in the mid-90s about being stabbed while at a cafe in New Haven, Connecticut.

This of course is just a small sampling of the people who belong to this global community.

I look forward to the day’s conversations, which promise to provoke, move and inspire.