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Reporting and Resilience: How Journalists Are Managing Their Mental Health


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Jonathan Ancer

A thoughtful piece by NiemanReports on  journalists learning how to cope amidst a global pandemic, racial tumult, and decimated newsrooms. 

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In an industry overwhelmed and understaffed, and vilified from both sides of the political divide, the journalistic ethos of heading enthusiastically to cover mayhem and danger has collided with burnout and trauma. 

 

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Jonathan R

This is a really important issue raised by @Jonathan Ancer. I've worked with journalists who were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from having seen terribly things while reporting on conflicts or famine. But there is a real reluctance in the industry to take it seriously. Journalists think that talking about this, or asking for help, is a sign of weakness, rather than strength. And sadly many organisations do not recognize the dangers of PTSD and burnout in their staff. I've seen editors telling reporters to pull themselves together and go out and report a story, when what they really needed was some help and perhaps time to process what they had seen or been through.
I was really impressed earlier this year when Fergal Keane (who many of us know from his work for the BBC in Africa) spoke openly about the difficulties he faced in dealing with PTSD. Other colleagues of his including Jeremy Bowen (who covered the Middle East) have also spoken about dealing with depression and PTSD from work.

It is worth remembering that journalists can also get "vicarious trauma" by interviewing people who have gone through or seen terrible things. 

If people are struggling with these issues, then a really good place to find out more and to get help is the The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, which has a variety of resources and offers training.

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