Journalists and media workers
The majority of journalists will witness traumatic events, whether that’s at a crime scene in a rural community, a multi-vehicle car accident, regularly covering the weekly proceedings at family court, or searching through useable images online of the latest international bomb blast.
(Source: DART Centre )
Many journalists may be exposed to frequent, repetitive, and prolonged, uncensored traumatic content without ever leaving the newsroom. (Feinstein et al., 2014; Weidmann & Papsdorf, 2010)
How journalists are affected
Most journalists exhibit resilience despite repeated exposure to work-related traumatic events. This is evidenced by relatively low rates of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders.
A significant minority, however, are at risk for long-term psychological problems, including PTSD, depression, and substance abuse.
Events involving death, violence, and human suffering can be especially disturbing for journalists, particularly when these events involve children (Newman et al., 2003; Pyevich et al., 2003; Smith, 2008).
Rates of possible PTSD range between 4-59%.
Rates range from less than 1-21% (Feinstein et al., 2003. Feinstein et al., 2014; Weidmann et al., 2008)
Examined among war correspondents and was found to be 14% (Feinstein et al., 2002); examined among journalists working with User Generated Content material – excess alcohol intake 15.4% (male) and 17.4% (female) (Feinstein et al., 2014)
What management can do
It is the responsibility of senior management within news and content creation organisations to support their staff in the difficult work they do on their behalf. In Ireland there is some ambivalence about the availability of supports to media workers. While some newsrooms have Employee Assistance Programme providing third party counselling services, many media workers say these supports are not well sign-posted, or there is no culture of self-care in their workplaces.
Headline Self-Care Programme in 2019
Building on from our Challenges report, Headline aims to produce self-care guides in line with international best practice. Self-care is a matter for all media workers exposed to traumatic content: reporters, camera-operators, UGC editors, even ingest. If you’re a media worker and would like Headline to engage with your management on your behalf about self-care for media workers, please get in touch with Headline. If you’re a newsroom manager and are concerned about your staff, make sure they’re aware of any confidential supports you have available. If you want to talk to Headline about available supports, please get in touch.
Headline is Ireland’s national programme for responsible reporting, and representation of mental illness and suicide. Our objective is to work as collaboratively as possible with Irish media professionals across print, broadcast, and online platforms to reduce the effects of suicide contagion, and the stigma attached to mental ill health.