2018 in Brief…

Headline Rebranded and Changed Focus

2018 saw many changes for Shine’s media support programme, Headline. Following Headline’s rebrand and shift towards more collaborative media practices, we launched our new website Headline.ie. This has been completely redesigned to accommodate new resources and supports available for journalists and content creators needing guidance on mental ill health coverage.

The website is now compatible with mobile and desktop devices and can be easily accessed by journalists and media students on the go. The Quick Resources page provides clear information on guidelines and covers mental illness, self-harm, suicide, PTSD, eating disorders and murder-suicide. A new page for Headline research has also been added in order to make our learnings as up to date and relevant as possible to Ireland’s media and mental health sectors.

In our recently published research entitled, ‘Reporting Mental Health & Suicide: Challenges Facing Journalists’, the need for a cultural shift within newsrooms towards allowing for self-care practices among media workers, was clearly established. Headline has begun to develop a self-care policy for Irish media workers. To find out more about this click here.

We hope that the new website will further develop our relationship with Irish media professionals across print, broadcast and online platforms, while also reducing suicide contagion, and the stigma attached to mental ill health. We are committed to having a platform that is accessible and user-friendly and we would welcome any feedback you might have. Get in touch via the contact page.

Headline Released its Challenges Facing Journalists Report

In 2018, Headline commissioned Dr. Anne O’Brien from Maynooth University to examine the attitudes and workflows of media workers in Ireland, to better understand the obstacles to responsible coverage of mental health and suicide. The report highlighted several key challenges for media workers operating in this sphere, including their lack of understanding of severe mental illness like Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and others. Also highlighted in the report was the shortage of participants with lived experience willing to participate in programming. This was echoed in media workers’ observations that mental health advocates and organisations are increasingly paternalistic in their approach to working with the media.

Check out the report here.

We Mapped the Most Prevalent Reporting Breaches in Irish Media

At Headline, we monitor over 200 online news sources in Ireland for content relating to suicide and mental ill health. This informs our educational programmes, research needs and helps focus our attention on areas of current content creation and reportage that needs most improvement.

We have two streams of data: Priority and Non-Priority. Priority contains articles that may contain breaches and require action, such as an article containing excessive detail on a suicide method, while our non-priority stream illustrates current trends and general coverage of mental health content not related to suicide.

number of articles monitored between May and December 2018 of which

were filtered to our Priority stream

were filtered to our Non-Priority stream

Of the 3,311 priority articles

breached reporting guidelines

From May – December 2018, Headline monitored 29,952 online articles. 3,311 came through our priority channel and, of this figure, 726 contained content which breached international guidelines on suicide and mental ill health reportage.

Of the 726 breaches, 326 articles did not signpost audiences towards relevant helpline numbers, 255 articles used the terms commit(ted) suicide, 163 articles used stigmatizing words such as ‘deranged’ and ‘lunatic’.

Excessive detail on suicide methodology is perhaps one of the most serious breaches having potentially immediate and life-threatening consequences for some audiences. This is supported by decades of international research on the link between media and its reportage of suicide methods (Visit to www.nsrf.ie for all relevant research) Between May and December 2018, 20 online articles on Irish sites that we monitor contained excessive detail on a suicide method. We hope that in time, through continued collaboration and education, these numbers will be reduced.

Click on Samaritans Media Reporting Guidelines and World Health Organisation Guidelines for more information on best practice reportage.