Three Tips When Interviewing Trauma Victims

On day two of our journalism hostile training, BuzzFeed’s Jina Moore talked
to us about being sensitive when interviewing people who’ve experienced
trauma. She gave us a lot of information but these tips stood out:

*Get Meaningful Consent*

Before beginning an interview, make sure you get meaningful consent. This
means being clear with your interviewee about which outlet the piece will
run, what medium, which country and maybe even how much of the interview
you plan on using. This also means letting the interviewee know he/she does
not have to answer your questions. If you’re recording, make sure to get
meaningful consent on video or tape.

*Avoid Sugarcoating*

Euphemistic language won’t do you any good. Rather than ask, ‘How did your
daughter pass away?’ ask ‘How did your daughter die?’ This especially helps
when relying on a fixer to interpret. Flowery language can get lost in

*Be Forward-Thinking*

These types of interviews can be heavy but end with a positive,
forward-thinking question. For example, asking ‘What are you excited about
the future?’ can be empowering.

These tips can lead to more sensitive reporting not exclusive to victims of

Roxanne L. Scott, IWMF Fellow