When people have been traumatized, they’re often reluctant to talk to the media. There are ways of getting them to open up, though, and of showing them the value in sharing their story.
I talked with five journalists who have interviewed sexual assault victims, people with mental illnesses and parents who have lost children. Here are 10 tips from them.
If you are a non-profit who works with people facing tough challenges or who have been traumatized in some way, yet you want to share their stories, then these 10 tips from journalists you may find helpful.
But those of us who have been around storytelling as a dynamic meaning-making process know that these 10 tips do not deal with the real issues involved here.
For example, people's ability to share their story about a difficult issue evolves over time. At first they may only be able to tell you a tiny piece of the story. Or share a piece of 'black humor' about what happened. Eventually they may be able to tell more of the story, depending on their own healing process. So if you use these tips and expect to get the whole enchilada, be respectful and adjust your expectations. Don't push. You may do more damage than good.
And who they share their story with depends on the level of trust and intimacy they share with a person. Personal stories -- particularly stories of trauma -- can be characterized as stories you share with strangers on the front porch, stories you share in the living room when some trust has developed, and back-room stories that you feel comfortable sharing with your most intimate friends or partners.
Expecting someone to share a back-room story with you when you are a stranger to them means you are totally clueless. The result could be resistence or even more trauma.
So what is a non-profit to do?
Well, take these 10 tips in hand, but bring your understanding about people's ability to share their story to your work. And then work with the front porch to back-room story types so you know better what kinds of stories to ask for and when.
Wishing you good story gathering experiences!
This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at www.scoop.it/t/just-story-it