On a recent Today Show, the host was interviewing a woman who lost her home in a California mudslide. It was an tearful exchange, but according to this entry in Dave Cullen’s blog, the interviewer missed an opportunity to show empathy, instead of going after more information. Cullen says a journalist needs to be ready to put aside the list of prepared questions and to “show some meaningful emotion.” What kind of emotion does Cullen suggest? He recommends something like: “I wish I knew what to say.” He says this is a more human (and humane) response. Clearly it is, but is it the right one? When exploring trauma, should a journalist really set aside information-gathering when the tears start to flow, and provide soothing reassurance instead? How would you have handled this interview?


On a recent Today Show, the host was interviewing a woman who lost her home in a California mudslide. It was an tearful exchange, but according to this entry in Dave Cullen’s blog, the interviewer missed an opportunity to show empathy, instead of going after more information. Cullen says a journalist needs to be ready to put aside the list of prepared questions and to “show some meaningful emotion.” What kind of emotion does Cullen suggest? He recommends something like: “I wish I knew what to say.” He says this is a more human (and humane) response. Clearly it is, but is it the right one? When exploring trauma, should a journalist really set aside information-gathering when the tears start to flow, and provide soothing reassurance instead? How would you have handled this interview?

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