How can we support journalists covering Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands and others that will be covering future disasters?

By Sharon Dunten, Assistant Regional Director, SPJ Region 3

Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands are part of SPJ Region 3

Hurricane Maria tragectoryI don’t think many SPJ Region 3 members know that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the Region 3 coverage area. At this time we need to keep our thoughts and prayers for those journalists who live and work on these islands. They are part of the SPJ Region 3 collective. In addition, we need to support and say “thank you” to all the journalists that have been covering this crazy hurricane season. It is not an easy reporting assignment and many are placed in harms way.

How can we support other journalists?

  • If you follow journalists on Facebook and other social media channels, take a moment and write a post thanking them for their work and ask if there is anything you or your newsroom can do to support them. They may say no, but it is the thought that counts. It is part of keeping our colleagues mentally healthy.
  • Gift cards:  I have a friend in Galveston, Texas, who works for the Galveston Daily News and I sent her gift cards from Walmart and Home Depot to hand out to staff affected greatly by Hurricane Harvey. Just a thought. A newsroom could create a fund to give to another newsroom affected by the hurricanes. Ask them to “pay it forward.”
  • A personal thank you or note of concern will also go along way to support a fellow journalists. Take the time to physically write something and place it in snail mail. Again, working in a disaster scene takes a toll on journalists.
  • You may also want to consider volunteering in the future to help rebuild the lost homes because of the hurricane’s devastating winds and flooding. Connect with a local Red Cross, Salvation Army or church, synagogue or faith-based organization for small-term mission trips.  CNN Impact has some great ideas on how to help.

If you have any suggestions on how we can support our colleagues in heat of these powerful storms reaping havoc in Texas, Louisiana and the U.S. Southeast, contact Sharon Dunten at I would also love to hear stories about how journalists are helping journalists and how journalists are helping victims when they are covering these events.

Keep your eye out for Hurricane Maria. And remember it is only Sept. 19. The hurricane season doesn’t end until November.

Sharon Dunten mug
Sharon Dunten

– Sharon Dunten, Assistant Region Director, Region 3, Society of Professional Journalists, editor of, freelance writer and photographer.

Twitter  @spj_3