Archive for April, 2012

Who Covers Those Who Cover The Wars?

April 30, 2012

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

“Had I known then what I know now, I would have gone straight to the nearest shrink,” Chris Cramer, Global Editor for Multimedia at Reuters, told The Times of Israel in relation to his being held hostage at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980. Cramer, at the time working for the BBC, had gone to the embassy to get a visa to enter Iran to cover the American embassy hostage crisis there. Unfortunately, the journalist had only been standing in line a few minutes when the building was stormed by six terrorists. Cramer escaped after 36 hours by faking a heart attack. “At the time, I was appalled at the suggestion that I might have had Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” said Cramer, who refused stress counseling offered by his employer and the United Kingdom’s Home Office. “But I ended up suffering for a long time,” he admitted.

What Cramer knows now is due in part to his own experience in news management at Reuters since 2008, and before that as Managing Director of CNN International. But it is also thanks to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Anthony Feinstein. A Jewish South African-born, British-trained neuropsychiatrist at the University of Toronto, Feinstein, 55, was the first to systematically and scientifically study and document the psychological effects of covering war and violent conflict on journalists. “Anthony has become over time the world’s acknowledged expert on PTSD among war journalists,” Cramer said. “The guy’s a genius. He’s become a magnet for my colleagues. Anyone can contact him.”

Indeed, any frontline journalist anywhere in the world can contact Feinstein via the “War, Journalism, and Stress” website he has set up and monitors with funding from CNN that allows them to take a self-assessment on depression, PTSD, trauma history, substance abuse, and general psychological wellbeing. Journalists receive immediate feedback on their scores and may be advised to make an appointment with their doctor or with the person coordinating their company’s employee assistance program. In the seven years that the website has existed, thousands of journalists from 40 different countries have used it.

Until the modest and approachable Feinstein came along, however, it was highly unusual for news organizations to offer psychological assessment and counseling to their reporters, producers, videographers and photographers in the field. “Media organizations didn’t want to get involved because it would increase the liability issue,” reflected Jeffrey Dvorkin, director of the University of Toronto’s journalism program and former Managing Editor at CBC Radio and Vice President for News and Information at NPR. “We constantly saw the trauma. It was part of the landscape to have people who were ‘difficult,’ who were ‘characters.’ We had to ‘manage’ them, but we didn’t have to address the issues. We’d push them until they broke and then we’d send them back in.”

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

More On Kunis And Kutcher: The First Kiss

April 30, 2012

This post first appeared on The Shmooze blog at the Forward. 

Poor Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. The gossip media just won’t give the rumor that they are more than just good friends a rest. People just want to know what’s up with Kunis, who not long ago complained of having no dates, and Kutcher, who recently split from his wife Demi Moore, spending so much quality time together.

And speaking of people, the magazine with that name has suggested that it may not just be chance that has brought the two actors together now. Someone at People went digging through the publication’s archives and found an item from 2001 in which Kunis divulged that her on-screen kiss with Kutcher in an episode of “That 70s Show” in 1998 was actually her first kiss ever. Kunis was 15 at the time and very nervous. “I was like, ‘Oh, he’s so cute, it’s the Calvin Klein model!’” Kunis said in the 2001 interview. “Then I was like, ‘I have to kiss him?’ I was so nervous and uncomfortable. I had the biggest crush on him.”

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Jack Black Shows Off In Hebrew

April 30, 2012

This post first appeared on The Shmooze blog at the Forward.

Like so many parents these days, comedic actor and musician Jack Black is having a lot of stress about getting his kids into a good school. Last week, he told Conan O’Brien that he recently resorted to some desperate measures — well, at least desperate Jewish word dropping — to impress the admissions people at a local Jewish day school (he said “Hebrew school,” but from the context, it sounded like he was not talking about an afternoon school).

Asserting his right to “take my kids there,” even though he’s an atheist (“I’m technically a Jew, you know. And my wife is too.”), Black admitted to the talk show host that he was feeling pressure. So, Jack Black being Jack Black, he “put on a bit of a show.”

Click here to read more and see the video.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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