Journalists at risk – looking beyond just physical safety.
This source preferred by Stephen Jukes
Authors: Jukes, S.
Start date: 10 September 2015
Hardly a day goes by when we are not reminded of the hazards of modern journalism. The already unacceptably high levels of intimidation, kidnapping and killing have escalated still further with the civil conflict in Iraq and Syria and the series of brutal beheadings carried out by ISIS. But while major news organisations have paid increasing attention to safeguarding the physical safety of their correspondents, and some limited support is now in place for freelancers, the issue of the mental health of journalists covering conflict is still too often an afterthought. This paper explores the emerging support mechanisms for journalists covering traumatic news events, whether that be full blown war, natural disaster, street crime or family violence. Based on the author’s personal experience of working with the Dart Centre for Journalism & Trauma and on interviews with top journalists, the paper further explores new challenges emerging from social media as journalists seek to incorporate into their news reporting an increasing volume of often distressing “user generated content”. The disturbingly graphic nature of this material, ranging from chemical weapons attacks in Syria to propaganda driven beheading videos, has prompted some news organisations to evolve guidelines to safeguard the mental health of often junior journalists now subjected to a daily flow of traumatic news footage on newsroom intake desks.