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 PTSD & Mental Health
This provocative three-part series examines the concept of moral injury, a phenomenon where combat or operational experiences transgress deeply held moral and ethical beliefs that undergird a service member’s humanity; often seen as damage to the soul. Judges praised the series for “gracefully and confidently marrying the humanity and understanding of its survivors with a gritty, powerful investigation that breaks new ground.” Originally published in the Huffington Post in March 2014.
Ochberg Fellow Dave Philipps and Dart Award Honorable Mention recipient Thomas James Brennan co-wrote a front page article for the New York Times about U.S. veterans, disenchanted with civilian life, who are returning to Iraq to volunteer to fight the Islamic State.
Psychologist Anthony Feinstein examines a confluence of factors that can undermine the emotional well-being of journalists, including the emergence of new threats in Syria, the relentless nature of the conflict and those predominantly tasked with covering it. This piece was originally published in The Globe and Mail.
Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center, has been recognized with the 2014 Public Advocacy Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) for his “outstanding and fundamental contributions to the social understanding of trauma.”
ABC Australia's News 24 Presenter/Reporter Kumi Taguchi took a break from the quick turnaround of TV news to spend two weeks at a Melbourne repatriation hospital to work on a feature story about PTSD experienced by returned soldiers, The Battle After The War. In this piece, Taguchi writes about becoming comfortable, gaining trust, and her decision to write exclusively for online.
Following the murders of Steven Sotloff and James Foley by Islamic State extremists, foreign correspondent Nadine Marroushi wrote in The Telegraph about the physical and mental health risks of reporting from conflict zones, and her own battle with PTSD.
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.