Journalist Experiencing PTSD From Covering Stories

At the Newseum ,in Washington D.C,  they have an exhibit that covers the firsthand accounts from photographers and reporters that covered September 11, 2001. I remember watching a video there and learning about how when others where running away journalist where charging forward to cover the story.

Hanging on the wall is a quote from Rob Dreher, a newspaper columnist, that has always stuck with me.  No matter how hard the situation is a reporter will do their job and make sure that the world is informed by their first-person account.

This is the expectation for journalist in their fields. Recently psychologist have started studying the affects of situations that journalist cover and how they are affecting their mental health.

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Dr. Anthony Feinstein, author of Journalist Under Fire: The Psychological Hazards of Covering War, has found that many journalist that are returning from war zones are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Many journalists are keeping quiet about what they are going through for fear that editors and colleges will not think that they can handle other assignments.

Many solders, firefighters and police officers who suffer from PTSD try to forget and not think about what they experienced. This is not the case for journalist, the main part of a journalist job is to remember and retain as much detail as they can so they can report accurately on the story.

That kind of investment to a story makes it hard for journalist to walk away. Putting them in situation where they are witnesses to human suffering first-hand or even putting their own lives in threatening situations. Journalist are putting themselves in high risk situations for fear that if they don’t their employer will find someone else who is willing to do what they wont. This along with covering an unforeseen grisly event can put a lot of stress on reports and affect their work in the long run.

Dr. Feinstein has created a Web site that helps journalist self-assess their own psychological well-being.  At http://conflict-study.com/index.html Journalist can gain some insight into the issues they are facing and learn how to receive further guidance. The cite to help journalist receives funding from CNN and the International New Safety Institute.

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2 responses to “Journalist Experiencing PTSD From Covering Stories

  1. Along with journalist experiencing PTSD from covering stories, they have to deal with stress of the workplace. They have to deal with stories, deadlines, interviews, etc. Sometimes the stress wears on their health, and they don’t know how to stop being so stressed out. They just want to keep going with their career. There are many other health issues that journalists can experience, but PTSD and stress are a few.

  2. Journalists–especially those who cover war zones, or acts of terror–really do heroic work. Not only do they have to experience these traumatic situations, but they must observe all details with utmost accuracy, and carry the stories with them into the reporting. Forgetting trauma for them is not an option; remembering and reliving it is how they make a living. I often wonder how journalists handle this stress. I hope this issue raises its voice enough to generate resources for these PTSD-inflicted reporters.

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