The Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism (formerly the Dart Society) has named Leda Hartman winner of the 2013 Mimi Award, which honors excellent editors who demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and empathy in reporting on victims of conflict, tragedy and social injustice.
Hartman is editor of the nationally broadcast public radio program Latino USA, and was nominated by a group of journalists who have worked for her at a variety of news agencies, including World Vision Report, which closed in 2011. Work on her website is here.
“As an editor, being a supportive partner is the least we can do for reporters who are out there on the front lines, often in dangerous or difficult places, often working alone, just because they believe the rest of the world needs to know about the stories they’re covering,” Hartman said. “A collaborative relationship can help reporters do their best work, and everyone benefits.”*
A panel of judges selected Hartman for her commitment to reporters’ personal well-being and their responsibility to tell the stories of traumatized people with respect and compassion.
“She cares about her reporters, is willing to hear their objections and is supportive of them,” said one of the judges, Jamon Smith of the Tuscaloosa News. “Having an editor who knows how to keep a reporter calm and focused in hostile environments like Rwanda, the Congo and Egypt, I would imagine, is life-saving.”
In her letter nominating Hartman, journalist Bonnie Allen described how her editor helped her through crisis reporting abroad: “In 2009, I followed the journey of an 8-year-old rape survivor in northern Liberia through the medical and legal system. There were many times when I had to examine my approach and ethics, and I turned to Leda. In Libya in 2011, when I was freelancing in potentially hostile environments with far fewer resources than network reporters, it was Leda that helped monitor my safety and guided me to tell important personal stories in the midst of often hyped-up sensational conflict coverage.”
Two editors, Scott Blanchard, Sunday editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Penn., and Amy Pyle of the Center for Investigative Reporting, were given honorable mention for the Mimi Award; Blanchard for his management of deeply emotional stories about community trauma and their impact on survivors, and Pyle for her responsiveness and innate understanding of what journalists need to cover intensive subject matter.
The award is named in memory of Providence Journal editor Mimi Burkhardt, who understood the professional and interpersonal dynamics of reporting on traumatized people, and who fully supported journalists to produce meaningful, compassionate stories that improve communities and society.
The Ochberg Society will present the award Oct. 18 in Providence, R.I., in concert with a public forum at the Providence Journal, “Putting People First: Managing Newsrooms in Crisis,” that will bring together editors, journalists and photojournalists who have covered regional tragedies in the past year, including Newtown, Hurricane Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombing. Click here to attend.
*Full text of Hartman’s quote:
I am touched and honored to be the recipient of this year’s Mimi Award.
Having been a reporter myself for the majority of my career, I know from experience how hard this work is. Most journalists don’t do their work for either the money or the glamour, but out of a hope to foster more understanding through accurate and well-presented storytelling. As an editor, being a supportive partner is the least we can do for reporters who are out there on the front lines, often in dangerous or difficult places, often working alone, just because they believe the rest of the world needs to know about the stories they’re covering. A collaborative relationship can help reporters do their best work, and everyone benefits. I am grateful to the Ochberg Society for having the vision and heart to create an award that recognizes the value of being not just a competent editor, but also a caring one. It’s uplifting. Thank you!
Leda Hartman is a nationally award-winning reporter and editor who specializes in character-driven narrative journalism. Her stories have aired on many nationally broadcast public radio programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Latino USA, Living on Earth, Studio 360, The World and Voice of America. She has also written features for The Christian Science Monitor, Congressional Quarterly’s Global Researcher and The New York Times. Currently, she is an editor for NPR’s Latino USA, a weekly public radio program about Latino issues, people and culture. Before that, she worked as the assignment editor and script editor for two nationally broadcast global affairs programs, Latitudes and the World Vision Report, where she developed and maintained a network of more than 100 reporters around the world. Most of all, she enjoys ferreting out good stories and working with reporters to make them authentic, engaging and full of life.
Leda is the recipient of more than a dozen national and regional awards for her reporting work, including a shared Dupont-Columbia, a shared Gracie, a Clarion and a first-place documentary award from the Society of Professional Journalists. One of the stories she edited received an Edward R. Murrow award and a Gabriel award for best feature.
Leda holds a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and has also completed several post-graduate seminars at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism in College Park, Md., and the University of North Carolina School of Journalism in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Leda is married to author and journalism professor Paul Cuadros and lives in the tiny — but not sleepy — town of Pittsboro, N.C.