Leading Resilience: A Guide for Editors and News Managers on Working with Freelancers Exposed to Trauma

Download the Full Guide Here

A collaboration between ACOS Alliance and Dart Centre Asia Pacific, this guide is designed to help editors and managers understand and support their teams. It is divided into five sections covering both general information and specific suggestions and tips for working with freelancers. 


As a news manager and editor, it is likely that you are commissioning stories from a variety of news professionals. In addition to people working in your own newsroom, you are probably managing freelance news gatherers, people you have hired because of their proximity to the story. Your duty of care to both permanent staff and freelancers involves understanding what may place them in the way of physical or psychological harm. When it comes to freelancers, understanding these risks may be more difficult. You may or may not have an ongoing relationship with them. You probably don’t have direct experience of their location, or the local risks. Both of you are likely under time pressure, with little knowledge of each other’s stressors, and little knowledge of each other as individuals. And, you both want the best possible story.

Key Points

This guide is written to help you navigate some of these issues. It assumes, as a starting point, a number of important foundation points.

  • A culture of safety in the newsroom benefits everyone – permanent staff, freelancers, news sources and the wider community.
  • News gatherers are highly likely to be exposed to trauma during their course of their work.
  • Resilience is normal – most news gatherers can and do cope well with this aspect of their work – but sometimes the impacts are lasting.
  • The risk of serious mental health consequences can be mitigated by support from colleagues, managers and news organizations.
  • The best way to respond to these risks is to become informed about trauma and its potential impact on news gatherers and actively support and engage with your team about these issues.
  • Trauma informed journalism leads to better journalism.
  • The ability to acknowledge and discuss personal emotional reactions to stories is a sign of professional strength and resilience.

Your Responsibilities

If you have asked someone to cover a story for you, you have a legal and ethical duty of care to that person. The legal aspects may vary between jurisdictions, but increasingly courts are considering these issues and in at least one case (in Australia) have ruled against the news organization, in a case related to an employee. While the impact of these legal actions may not flow to all jurisdictions and to the freelance relationship, no news organization can assume that their responsibilities for responding to trauma as it affects their staff, including freelancers, are minimal. It is no longer possible for news organizations to ignore the evidence about the potential impact of covering trauma as a news gatherer. As a manager, you need to understand, manage and respond to these risks before, during and after the freelancer works on the assignment.

ThIS Guide

You can download the full guide here. It is divided into the following sections:

  • Understanding Trauma and Journalism
  • Trauma and the Freelancer
  • Support Before the Assignment
  • Support During the Assignment
  • Support After the Assignment
  • Myth-Busting
  • Self-Care for Editors and Managers
  • Psychological Risk Assessment and Tip Sheets