Rebranded: The Ochberg Society

By John MooreThe Dart Society, a grassroots nonprofit serving journalists who cover trauma, is changing its name. The new name of the organization is The Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism, in honor of its founder,Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist whose pioneering work in trauma psychology found a connection to the craft of journalism.

The nonprofit organization has 200 member journalists who represent the best in print, radio, TV and online media; many of them have received direct interpersonal support and guidance in their work, thanks to the network Ochberg envisioned.

“Frank Ochberg was the first of the PTSD specialists to understand what trauma can do to the journalists working in the worlds of conflict and tragedy,” said Jim Lehrer of NewsHour, a member of the Ochberg Society.  “He is also the best at helping those journalists who need it the most. Frank is literally one of a kind.”

Gloria Steinem, also an Ochberg Society member, welcomed the name change: “We’re inspired by life stories, not impersonal nouns,” she said. “Now future generations will learn about the compassionate pioneering of Dr. Frank Ochberg — and continue it.”

For more than a decade, The Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism has pursued its mission of helping journalists who cover war, violence and social injustice. Its programs include:

  • Direct peer outreach to journalists in the aftermath of tragedy.
  • Recognition of outstanding editors through the annual Mimi Award.
  • An online magazine to showcase work that centers on trauma.
  • An active blog and website that promotes discussion about critical issues in reporting on trauma.
  • Editorial support and guidance for any journalist who reaches out to us.

With its new name and growth in membership, the Society hopes to increase these and other outreach efforts.

The newly-renamed Ochberg Society began as an alumni association for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma’s Ochberg Fellows Program, established in 1999. Since 2010, it has opened its doors to like-minded journalists in a wide range of coverage areas around the world.

Bruce Shapiro, executive director of The Dart Center based at Columbia University, said, “When the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma began training news professionals nearly 15 years ago, Frank, the center’s founding chairman, had a vision: a membership organization for trauma-aware journalists, committed both to compassionate, ethical reporting on victims and to understanding the impact of covering tragedy on our own professional community.  Naming this growing Society — a force for better journalism and more resilient journalists — in his honor is a fitting tribute.”

Ochberg Society President Arnessa Garrett said the organization is striving to meet its goal to increase compassionate reporting on victims and support for the journalists who do this work.

“The difficulties of journalists face working at home and abroad covering war, natural disaster and violence have only increased in recent years, so having a professional organization dedicated to the field of trauma journalism has become increasingly important,” said Garrett, an editor at the Dallas Morning News.

For more information and to schedule interviews, contact Executive Director Deirdre Stoelzle Graves.

Ochberg.Society.logoABOUT THE LOGO

The logo for the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism pictured above was designed by Russell Weller of Brevity, LLC in Casper, Wyo., in collaboration with Frank Ochberg and artist Lynn Ochberg.

“Fire strikes me as meaning many things — illumination, campfire stories, holocaust, energy,” said Frank Ochberg. “And a fiery ‘O’ does capture our new name and circle of friendship.”

Frank Ochberg, MD is one of the founders of modern psychotraumatology and served on the American Psychiatric Association Committee which defined PTSD. The former Associate Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health, Ochberg is winner of the Lifetime Acheivement Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. See his CV here at

Photo of Frank Ochberg by John Moore.