Trauma Workshop: Best Practices for Coverage and Peer Support
Resilience Training for Journalists & Aid Workers
Presentation: Intimidation, Sexual Harassment & Moral Injury among Journalists
Application Deadline: Zurich Science Writers Fellowship
Journalists frequently bear witness to human suffering whether covering mass disasters or individual atrocities; however, little is known regarding the impact of such exposure on the well-being of journalists. Researchers in the field of traumatic stress are only beginning to examine the toll this line of work may have on the health of journalists. This fact sheet reviews extant research regarding:
The majority of journalists witness traumatic events in their line of work:
Most journalists exhibit resilience despite repeated exposure to work-related traumatic events. This is evidenced by relatively low rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders.
A significant minority, however, are at risk for long-terms psychological problems, including PTSD, depression, and substance abuse.
Taken together, these studies suggest that journalists are at risk for exposure to work-related traumatic events. Further, some journalists exposed to these events appear vulnerable to the development of PTSD and other psychiatric symptoms. This is particularly true of Mexican journalists covering stories drug-related conflict and war correspondents. The identification of risk factors in the current line of research indicates several ways in which news organizations can be involved in reducing occupational risk. Efforts to increase organizational support for those who cover traumatic events are warranted. This may include educating journalists about the psychological risks involved in their line of work, decreasing the frequency and intensity of exposure to traumatic news assignments, and providing appropriate resources for coping with the emotional toll of these assignments. Aiding connectedness to social networks within and outside of the organization may also be of benefit. As the news room culture shifts towards increasing organizational support and decreasing organizational stressors, the likely result is reduced risk of harm, as well as greater work satisfaction and productivity among journalists.
Further, considering that most journalists will cover a trauma-related event at some point in their careers, it is vital that journalists receive proper trauma training during their journalism education before entering the workforce. This should occur with all journalists but may be especially meaningful for freelance journalists who may not benefit from the support and ongoing education provided by a specific organization. Trauma training that incorporates education on reporting and working in hazardous environments, how to interact with vulnerable or traumatized victims and witnesses in the aftermath of catastrophic events, and healthy coping/self-care repertoires is warranted.
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Originally published; July, 2009. Updated by Susan Drevo; July 2015
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A 40-page guide to help journalists, photojournalists and editors report on violence while protecting both victims and themselves. Click here for a Ukrainian translation.
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