Newsroom journalists at increased risk of PTSD, depression from images of extreme violence

Source: SAGE Publications

Summary: Journalists working with images of extreme violence submitted to newsrooms by the public are at increased risk of adverse psychological consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder. “Given that good journalism depends on healthy journalists, news organizations will need to look anew at what can be done to offset the risks inherent in viewing material. Reducing the frequency of exposure may be one way to go,” authors say.

Journalists working with images of extreme violence submitted to newsrooms by the public are at increased risk of adverse psychological consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder. New research, published today by JRSM Open, shows that frequent, repetitive viewing of traumatic images by journalists working with ‘live’ or User Generated Content material can be closely linked to anxiety, depression, PTSD and alcohol consumption. Frequency rather than duration of exposure to images of graphic violence is more emotionally distressing to journalists processing User Generated Content (UGC) material.

UGC is sought after by news organizations, some of which have created specific news units to edit and ‘sanitise’ these images for screening in news and documentary programmes.

The setting for the research was the newsrooms of three international news organisations and the participants were 116 English-speaking journalists working with UGC. Dr Anthony Feinstein, who led the team of researchers at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, said: “Previous research among war journalists revealed elevated rates of PTSD and major depression compared to domestic journalists with little exposure to personal threat or violence. Our research shows that exposure to violence, albeit indirect, in a group of UGC journalists, is an important determinant of psychopathology.”

The news organizations involved in the study do not attempt to funnel more experienced journalists in the direction of a news story where the chances of viewing extreme violence are high.

Dr Feinstein said: “Given that good journalism depends on healthy journalists, news organizations will need to look anew at what can be done to offset the risks inherent in viewing UGC material. Reducing the frequency of exposure may be one way to go.”

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. A. Feinstein, B. Audet, E. Waknine. Witnessing images of extreme violence: a psychological study of journalists in the newsroom. JRSM Open, 2014; 5 (8) DOI:10.1177/2054270414533323
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About briandmahan

Following a catastrophic automobile accident several years ago, I began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was hit by one of two cars that were racing on the 10 freeway in Los Angeles. And, although I walked away from the accident, I began to have several FULL-BLOWN panic attacks a day (I didn’t even know they were panic attacks; I just thought I was going crazy). But, after just a few sessions with a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, my anxiety and panic attacks ceased and I haven't had one in 9 years. In fact, my life changed so dramatically and quickly, I decided to train in the same technique. Upon completing a three-year training program studying Somatic Experiencing, the work of Peter Levine, PhD., my self-obsessed passion for healing and personal transformation shifted. I've been blessed to be able to help and assist other survivors of unresolved past traumatic events, who suffer from PTSD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression and Stress to feel safe, joyful and to take take control of their lives again. And, now, I consider that car wreck to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It’s my passion for the past 9 years to share my story, experience, and know-how with others, like you, who may simply have been trying to heal with the wrong approaches. (You can’t heal a toothache by getting a massage.) I am not a psychologist, a medical doctor or a spiritual healer. I am a trauma survivor. And I have come to understand that PTSD, anxiety, panic, stress and depression are physiological conditions more so than they are psychological disorders. I hold retreats, workshops and free seminars, focused on establishing a sense of safety and re-awakening embodiment through healing stress and trauma. I also offer one-on-one sessions both face-to-face for local clients and by Phone and SKYPE for clients nationwide and internationally.
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