Those Who Told The Story: Journalism, Trauma and the Act of Witnessing a Sex Abuse Scandal

By Rachel Hitchcock

Those Who Told The Story is a visual book about the journalists who documented the USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sex abuse scandals in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. This is a story about second-hand trauma experienced by journalists, which manifests in unique and variable ways based on location, age, and life circumstances.

These stories unite in this book to start a conversation about the act of witnessing and covering traumatic stories, specifically related to sexual abuse against children, and how it affects journalists personally and professionally. Through the use of portraiture and still-life imagery, readers will experience, in variable ways, the impact of these stories on journalists. Each journalist is profiled in a two-page spread, sharing their challenges faced and lessons learned during the course of covering this national scandal.

In creating this book, each journalist was asked to choose a location with significance to their role in making this tragic circumstance known to the public. Some decided on courthouses, others went back to their newsrooms, and still, others found places of solace – a park they frequented, a tree they used to study in on campus, and their home, where the truth was revealed only after the loss of one’s lifelong partner. Following the portrait session, the journalists were asked to write in a reporter’s notepad the answer to this question: What was the most important lesson you learned as a result of your part in telling this story?

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The Journalists

Those Who Told The Story

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