An overview of current research on the occupational hazards for journalists covering traumatic events, the risk factors that aggravate those effects, and some suggestions for mitigating those factors. Originally published by River Smith and Elana Newman in January, 2009; Updated by Susan Drevo in May, 2016, and by Autumn Slaughter in March, 2019.
Resources for Tip Sheets, PTSD & Mental Health
Photographs and video of horrifying, violent acts may provide essential documentation of human tragedy. But however compelling its news value, traumatic imagery needs to be handled with care, as it can place the wellbeing of those who work with it at risk. Click for Arabic, French and Spanish translations.
Suggested ways news personnel can minimise further harm when working with victims and survivors.
Staff care tips for managers and editors of news personnel exposed to traumatic events.
Most journalists face an inevitability in their careers: They must cover a tragedy and interview people who are pinned against a wall of grief. The wall blocks the victims from seeing that their lives may improve tomorrow. They only see who's in front of them and feel the pain of that moment.
Young journalists will often encounter violence among their first reporting experiences. The effects of catastrophe and cruelty are newsworthy, particularly when victims are numerous, are famous or are symbolic of something that we all relate to and hold dear: a child killed in a schoolroom; a nurse held hostage in a hospital.