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Steve Raymer

April 25, 2012

Crime. Family violence. Natural disaster. War.  Most of us learn about such traumatic events through the news media, but we give little thought to who’s reporting on the trauma, or how.

Steve Raymer does. A longtime photojournalist, Raymer has covered conflict all over the world for National Geographic and other media. Now a professor of journalism at the IU School of Journalism in Bloomington, Raymer teaches courses about reporting on war, conflict, and terrorism, drawing on his own experiences to illuminate the topic of “trauma journalism” for his students.

For example, in his course on how wars, acts of terrorism, and humanitarian interventions are reported in global news media, Raymer covers topics including the Vietnam War as a watershed in the history of war reporting; military operations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as tools to help us understand the “U.S. way of war;” why many ongoing wars receive little or no attention in world media; the impact of technology, which allows real-time reporting from battlefields in the most remote parts of the world, on diplomacy and society; the psychological and physical danger faced by war correspondents and the effects of witnessing trauma; and the moral demands that humanitarian interventions place on journalists.

This spring, Raymer was selected as one of 14 Dart Academic Fellows for a 2012 program held at Columbia University in New York. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma conducts the program, now in its third year, to provide intensive training to journalism educators on how to teach accurate, ethical, and sensitive coverage of trauma, focusing on newsgathering, storytelling, and self-care when reporting on human tragedy. The center itself serves as a resource for reporters all over the world covering violence and conflict.

The Dart Center Academic Fellowship provides up to 12 college and university journalism educators with three days of seminars, training, and discussion, as well as financial support for curriculum development. During the intensive fellowship training, Raymer will participate in sessions covering topics including

  • the science of trauma–the latest on brain science and trauma reactions; how best to work with people who have experienced traumatic events; and how to incorporate trauma science into the journalism curriculum
  • newsgathering in the midst of trauma: effective and sensitive reporting techniques, particularly interviewing and ethical decision-making
  • storytelling through words and images: how to build narratives about trauma that offer vital information to individuals and communities in crisis
  • when tragedy affects student journalists: how to prepare students to make good personal and professional decisions while doing their job

Despite a career that has taken him to more than 90 countries to cover events from famines in Bangladesh and Ethiopia to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Raymer is looking to learn a lot from the Dart Center Fellowship opportunity.

“I have covered conflicts all over the world, but that doesn’t mean I know the latest thinking on how to teach conflict,” he says.

Raymer’s photographs have illustrated more than 30 National Geographic articles and have appeared in publications around the world. The recipient of numerous awards including Magazine Photographer of the Year, Raymer received a 1999-2000 Fulbright Research Fellowship, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, to support his work among the Muslim populations of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. In 2001, he published Living Faith: Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia. Raymer’s Images of a Journey: India in Diaspora was published by Indiana University Press in 2007. He also is photographer of Land of the Ascending Dragon: Rediscovering Vietnam, published in 1997.

Raymer has traveled widely in South Asia as a photographer, author, and lecturer. He is currently working on a new photographic book titled Redeeming Calcutta, an intimate portrait of India’s second largest city.

See images by Steve Raymer here:


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