Patricia Clarembaux: Lessons from the ground on crisis reporting

Patricia Clarembaux is a senior multimedia reporter at ​​UniNoticias originally from Venezuela. Currently based in Houston, Texas, she is former correspondent for AFP and a communication consultant at the United Nations Development Programme. Clarembaux has received two Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work, recognizing her achievements in electronic journalism

By Lucie REMER and Yutao ZHANG 

Patricia Clarembaux, Senior Reporter at UniNoticias © Emilie Echaroux
  • Clarembaux covered the issue of violence against women in El Salvador.
  • According to her, it is important to give enough time and space to victims to express themselves.
  • Journalists must also learn to protect themselves both physically and psychologically when covering this type of subject.

“When we think of crisis issues, it’s usually images of war that come to our mind, » said Clarembaux. But sensitive stories can come in many forms. Clarembaux’s project Salvadoran Women and Suicide yielded various lessons on how to cover those sensitive topics. In the report, Clarembaux describes violence in the context of gang wars and family crises, which impact women in El Salvador.

For Clarembaux, a source who has witnessed violence must be given the space to express themselves freely. She notes, « The amount of time and space each victim needs to recount what they’ve been through varies from person to person. » She also advises to never talk to sources about subjects they are not comfortable with. « Questions are only used to clarify certain points, » she said. 

Journalists must also learn to protect themselves. « Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the topics that you are covering, » Clarembaux said. One way to mitigate feeling overwhelmed is by talking with colleagues who are working on similar stories, or to consult psychotherapists. « I always try to separate work from my private life, » she said. 

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