Ethics workshop focuses on issues trauma in media


Keynote speaker Frank Ochberg addresses the audience on the effects of PTSD and its effects on journalism in the FirstEnergy Auditorium of Franklin Hall during the 11th annual Media Ethics Workshop on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015.

Alexis Wohler

The 11th annual Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop Thursday focused on trauma and media in Franklin Hall. As a one-day training program, professionals, educators and students examined critical issues and perspectives in media ethics.

Moderated by ethics faculty from The Poynter Institute, the workshop provided a forum for professionals and students alike, to confront and discuss significant issues crucial to understanding media ethics and its effect on the world.

Established in 2004, the Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop is continuing its mission to strengthen media credibility and bolster citizens’ faith in media integrity.

This year’s Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop was on “Enduring Trauma.” The workshop went into topics including re-victimization, extreme crisis communication, campus sexual assault and the effect of social media on trauma incidents and victims.

Furthermore, industry experts, ethicists, journalists and educators explain the term “Defining Trauma” in a social media series

Another workshop topic included “Telling Johanna’s Story,” featuring Rachel Dissell of The Plain Dealer and Johanna Orozco, the young woman who at 17 had been shot by an ex-boyfriend.

Orozco told her story to the students and faculty during a Q&A, by one of the media ethics professionals.

“In 2007, I was raped at knife point by my ex-boyfriend,” Orozco said. “On March 5, 2007, I was shot by my ex-boyfriend with a sawed-off shot gun.”

Dissell’s job was to find out how the system had failed Orozco.

During their presentation, a slide show showed pictures of what Orozco went through. Since the attack she’s had 12 major surgeries.

“She was resolute and wanted to talk about what had happened to her,” Dissell said. “She wanted to help people and make sure that what she went through never happens to someone else.”

As for writing the story, Dissell came to Orozco almost immediately after the attack happened, asking Orozco if she could write a story about her. Dissell even told her that it was Orozco’s choice whether to go along with writing the story or not.

“I told her, even if I get through writing this story entirely, and then she decided she didn’t want it to be out in the open, that was OK,” Dissell said. “After all this was and is her story.”

Throughout her ordeal, Orozco spent over a month in the hospital, made a resilient recovery and went on to attend her senior prom. She was even named prom queen at her high school, Lincoln-West High School. She had Dissell there with her to capture the moment she was named prom queen, as well as the moments leading up to her prom night.

“It was a story of resilience,” Dissell said. “Watching her look at his picture for a few seconds, then turn right around and dance again with her friends, that was when I knew what the story was about, being able to move on.”

Another aspect in which Dissell let Orozco have control over was, letting her see the entire story printed up on the walls of The Plain dealer before she actually let it run in the paper.

“It’s a heavy responsibility of reporting someone’s story,” Dissell said. “I didn’t want to mess it up. She wanted it to be real.”

Orozco said her main goal through telling her story was to help people.

“We all have our personalities,” Orozco said. “For me, I tried to be 100 percent open and honest, and be able to help others, as well as change people’s lives.”

Orozco then had people seeking help from her because of her story. She also said the hardest part of her story was facing her ex-boyfriend in court, not knowing how many years he was going to get in prison.

Orozco had also written a poem to him asking him why he had shot her, and that it was about personally telling everyone in court, including her ex-boyfriend how she felt she wasn’t sure if he would understand what she was trying to say.

 “I’ve never loved myself as much as I do now,” Orozco said. “There is always a light at the end of the dark, no matter what happens in your life.”

Alexis Wohler is the CCI reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at a[email protected].