Reporters, producers and photographers at Jacksonville’s top television news station, WJXT, participated in a discussion with members of Military Veterans in Journalism last week to consider best practices for reporting on disabled veterans.
The News4JAX team engaged in two hour-long training sessions with members of the MVJ Speakers Bureau. The conversation focused on impactful storytelling, accurate representation, connections between veterans and other marginalized groups, and local and national resources for journalists.
“Although they had tough questions, I felt entirely prepared to speak as an authority on disability reporting because of my training through MVJ and my own first-hand experience as a disabled veteran in journalism,” said Raychel Young, one of the trainers from the Speakers Bureau.
She and her fellow speakers have developed this training by working with top disability reporters and veterans groups, distilling the strongest insights from those sessions to share with news teams.
WJXT is the first news outlet to invite the Speakers Bureau for an in-person discussion.
“Taking every step we can to better serve our military veterans is important to all of us at News4JAX, which is why we jumped on the opportunity to meet with MVJ,” said Jodi Mohrmann, managing editor at WJXT. “We had candid discussions about the needs of disabled veterans and have already implemented some of what we learned in our daily reporting to make sure the stories we tell will have a greater impact on the veteran community.”
The training is funded through a grant from the Ford Foundation, and aims to help reporters access communities of disabled veterans – many of whom have told the MVJ team they often feel ignored by news media coverage.
WJXT is the only news station in its market to engage in this training, even though MVJ offered to provide speakers to most major news outlets in the Jacksonville area.
“Almost every American mass media outlet claims to care about the veterans in their audience, but channel 4 in Jacksonville really walks the walk,” said MVJ President Russell Midori.
“Reporting on disabled veterans is not as easy as it sounds,” Midori said. “This is a very diverse group of people affected by a wide range of social inequities. So many disabled veterans are less trustful of the media than the average American, and I am hopeful the commitment news outlets like WJXT have shown will begin to counter that mistrust by strengthening coverage of veterans issues.”