Post #14 (4/28)

I have thought about what my final words in life are going to be way more often than I am willing to admit. I thought about testing it here, but I decided yet against it.

So, bye.

This’ll be my concluding blog for Segment 3. I’m REALLY torn up about it… Alright, actually the assignment wasn’t that bad. I was lucky enough to pick a topic that I cared about and may affect me someday, so overall, I didn’t hate it.

So where am I now?

When I first started the project, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I knew the subject MIGHT exist, because we discussed an article in class that talked about the psychological effects on killers after they’ve committed their crimes. I stole the idea from that. At first, my Google searches failed me, and I was nervous to stick with this topic. If Google doesn’t find something after the first search, I get bummed out. I am glad I stuck with it though, because I ended up learning a lot.

I’ve learned exactly what psychological effect are: examples, causes, symptoms, remedies, etc. I dug deep into statistics about journalists diagnosed with PTSD and depression and looked into alcohol abuse. I’ve looked at experiences from real journalists – their journeys from seeing the traumatic event to being diagnosed and seeking help. I’ve looked in to what can be done.

Looking back, I like to think I’ve touched on a little bit of everything, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. After finding 40 sources for the first part of Segment 3, ending the second half with under 20 seems insane and makes me feel under-researched. In the end, I still ended up actually using some of the skills from the first part of Segment 3 though. Except the library. Never again.

Some conclusions I’ve arrived at… The big one is I’ve come to realize that this topic has no content with it. Sure, it got easier to find sources with Google as I got deeper into it, but in the beginning, it was difficult to find more than a few articles with what I was looking for. It made me realize how little people think this is an issue. It gave me a splendid idea for Segment 4.

I’ve learned that journalists ARE affected by what they report on. I remember one of my articles compared the extent of the PTSD in one reporter to that of a soldier. I’ve always been taught, not that reporters are cold and heartless, but they are resilient and strong. While this is true most of the time, I couldn’t deny the results I found in my research saying that wasn’t always the case, and worst of all, that no one cared. Okay, very few people cared. A lot of people just hadn’t looked into the idea. I had the opportunity to read a lot of information about my topic towards the end.

On a more general note, I learned a lot more about PTSD and depression and the symptoms, causes, etc. that go along with it.

Most importantly of all, I found a lot of tips on how to solve this problem.

If I had more time, I’d dig further into solutions. It’s easy to walk up to a news organization and show them what I’ve found, then they say “Great, what do you want us to do about it?” and I show them the few options I’ve found. In a perfect world, I’d whip out a binder that’s organized by colored tabs, has scented papers, and features a list of 50 different ways to help reporters. Unfortunately, my scented binder would only be a page long right now with a bulleted list. Probably no scented pages either.

The first half of Segment 3 was messy. I liked my topic, but finding all those sources to meet a million different requirements was tricky and time consuming. The second half was different. I was a lot more passionate about my research, and sources became easier to come across as I got deeper.

This topic is me basically. In (almost) three years, I’ll be leaving Eau Claire and frolicking off into the real world of journalism, messy as it is. I’m glad I got to do this research then. I know a little of what to expect and how to protect myself.

What else could possibly go wrong?

For real this time, signing off.



Post #13 (4/27)


So, I was thinking more about what I’d need to make my idea for Segment 4 work, and I decided I should do more research into what is needed to help journalists/what they can do/resources available to them already. To start this out, I pulled my article for the day from ISTSS – International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

The article’s authors was found right in the beginning with brief credentials. At the end, a more in-depth description of their work is listed, giving them credibility. The piece is posted on ISTSS, as I said above. The article being here adds to the usefulness of it, because it seems this site specializes on this type of research. It’s reliable and offers more interesting information for another angle on my research. The text’s purpose is to describe what’s needed for journalists in regards to trauma therapy using real journalists as examples. The tone is professional with a slight conversational tone. It makes the story flow easier with the journalists’ stories. I feel it doesn’t take away any credibility.

Onto the article.

It begins with the story of Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan who were both abducted on their way to a camp outside of Mogadishu. They were held for 15 months and released only after their families paid a “substantial” ransom. A phycologist was flown to Lindhout to help her mentally heal. This leads to the introduction of the rest of the article:

“Indeed, journalists need to have access to effective and appropriate trauma-related psychological care. This article summarizes a conversation that Brian Kelly, an experienced journalist, and I had when discussing vital aspects for therapists to consider when caring for journalists who have been affected by trauma.”

Brian Kelly is a free-lance cameraman who has done work in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Though he’s worked elsewhere, it was these places that caused him to no longer work in war zones and be diagnosed with PTSD. Spontaneous crying in public and flashbacks led him to accepting he wasn’t well. He reached out for help.

Therapy allowed him to:

“(a) diffuse and regulate upsetting emotional triggers (especially related to haunting flashbacks of traumatic images); (b) identify the triggers that caused his flashbacks and understand why it was happening; (c) integrate and accept his experiences as a curiosity rather than a “cancerous, overpowering evil;” (d) observe how other journalists dealt with trauma in varying degrees; and (e) accept that everyone is different and can tolerate different level of traumatic stress depending on their background and previous life events.

Further, he now has a stronger self-acceptance, stating, ‘I can’t have those experiences and see difficult things without it having some impact; but, it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of my life . . . it is a part me, not all of me.'”

What made this therapy successful?

“He noted the vital importance of a warm, empathic, respectful therapeutic relationship. In discussing the qualities of “helpful therapists,” he noted feelings of being an equal and respected as a person. He found these therapists more relatable, people he could identify with, which gave him confidence to be directly personal and disclose deep worries and experiences. He felt hopeful and was able to speak openly. He also stated that there was honesty in the relationship, and spoke of instances where his most helpful therapist used humor in useful ways. He also described how, with a good therapist, he was able to “go into a dark hole” and still maintain his integrity; and felt less shame and guilt in the aftermath of his experiences.”

In addition, Brian found talking to peer to also help him. While some had told him to “just get over it,” he found talking led him to realize that others were going through similar things and what he was feeling was a normal response. He found that these journalists also avoided bringing the things they’d seen home to their families like he had. Talking helped him feel not alone in his struggle.

What’s interesting about this article is it then features a list of “suggestions for counsellors and psychologists who are interested in helping journalists cope with traumatic experiences” made by Brian who’d had trouble finding the right therapist in the beginning. He recommends:

*knowledge about journalism culture

*previous “exposure to clients who have experienced violent trauma or combat”

*”delve into images and stories of war and violence”

* an understanding of “how the journalist’s feelings of guilt or shame can come from being a witness and how it is possible to develop an immunity to people’s suffering, which feels wrong and also shuts down their feelings of empathy in their close personal relationships”

*saying a message that is warm and expected as opposed to a negative social response reporters typically get

*explaining exactly what therapy is and how it works (time commitment)

Overall, the article says that newer journalists are becoming more knowledgeable about the effects of trauma through training offered in programs. There is also an increasing awareness and acceptance of PTSD becoming a more commonly identified issue. “Nonetheless, we see veteran journalists such as Brian helping others by talking about their experiences in journalism workshops or conferences, and working in partnership with mental health practitioners to normalize, for less experienced journalists, both the impact of traumatic experiences they may have during assignments, and the decision to seek help when they need professional assistance.”

I found this article to be fascinating. After all my research, I liked to step away from all the causes of the trauma and look into how to solve it. Another source I found for this purpose was a Facebook page.

You obviously need an account to participate, but I thought it was a simple example of the resources that are starting to bloom for journalists to get help with their trauma.

Tomorrow, SHOULD D2L PERMIT, I’d like to top of my research with my closing blog and turn this bad boy in.

But, you know… We’ll see how that goes.





Post #12 (4/26)


So, today I went to class and was given the packet to Segment 4. After I was done hyperventilating, I was able to think of a few ideas that may work for the project, which is splendid. The things is, before the start that project, I really want to make sure this research is well-rounded and I have plenty of sources to work with. If the idea that I’m thinking of doing right now actually happens, I’m going to need everything.

SO… For today, I found another really good source I want to share.

This article is written by Frederik Joelving. I’ve never heard of him, and upon clicking on his name, I was merely brought to a page with more of his posted articles. I couldn’t find any listing of his credentials on the article. A quick Google search does bring up his journalist profile though, so that helped his credibility. The article is published on I’ve never heard of this either, so I was a little cautious when adding it to my list of sources, but I found the content interesting and gave it a chance anyway. The text’s purpose is to provide proof that PTSD does affect journalists everyday and uses stories from war journalists to prove this point. The author’s tone is slightly more conversational, but when writing a piece like this, I’d do it the same way. To me, this tone didn’t hurt his credibility.

The article describes the story of Chris Cramer, a war correspondent at the time who was taken hostage for a few days by six gunmen at the Iranian embassy while on his way to get a visa to go to Tehran for a story. He faked a heart attack to get out. Though physically, he was unharmed, the mental aftermath was devastating.

“‘I went through real anguish for a couple of years. I had flashbacks, I had extraordinary claustrophobia, which I’d never had before. For several years, I did not go to a cinema, I did not go into an elevator. If I ever went into a restaurant, I positioned myself near the door for a fast exit. For many, many months after the incident I checked under my car every morning before driving it. I was a basket case, I was a mess.'”

The article uses this to introduce the fact that a 2003 survey found more than a quarter of war correspondents are dealing with PTSD, and “there are signs that journalists may be facing more dangers now than ever…”

“‘There are a lot of undetected emotional problems in the profession,’ said Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and one of the first to explore the psychological toll of war reporting. ‘Some of the big organizations are very aware of it, but many are not.'”

The article leads into the consequences of silence. Cramer didn’t seek help for his problems, because “newsrooms were very macho places.” Very competitive. It goes on to explain that journalists are a “hardy bunch,” but some do fall apart and turn to self-medicating (drugs and alcohol).

Bruce Shapiro of the Dart Center of Journalism and Trauma (WHICH I’VE SEEN BEFORE) said “‘I have talked to many journalists who’ve gotten derailed by psychological injuries. I have seen people who are no longer able to meet deadlines, who are haunted and wake up every night, and people who go the opposite direction and race toward danger.'”

The article explains that greater exposure to violence, especially with children, causes greater chances of people breaking down, and journalists deal with this as a part of the job. It gives an example of going to Haiti and seeing children dig for their parents.

It emphasizes that not everyone who witnesses violence will develop PTSD, but longer exposure can draw a higher risk. It also talks about symptoms, like the possible development of depression, but I’ve addressed this before so I won’t go into detail.


The article also addresses the fact that is a not necessarily a career ender and uses David Loyn as an example of a reporter who chose to get help. He sought professional counseling.

“‘I don’t think trauma counseling is a very complicated business. The important message is that journalists need to own this for ourselves. And if we own it, and if we support each other, then you can ultimately push the psychiatric intervention slightly further down the line.'”

Right now, the best treatment is talk therapy.

Loyn went on to meet several traumatized colleagues of his at BBC and from this spawned the first support group for journalists covering stories in combat zones. Several other news organizations have followed (CNN). It was a success, and the article gives the example of a cop even calling it to talk.

Why was it successful?

“‘A more ominous possibility, backed by experts, is that reporting is also becoming a more dangerous line of work.'”

Elana Newman, a psychologist at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Dart Center’s research director, says that “war correspondents face growing threats of kidnapping, murder and death or injuries from IEDs or mortar attacks.”

“‘I believe that as journalists are increasingly the targets of deliberate acts of violence in warzones. The mental health consequences will become more dire for more journalists.'”

The article ends with this quote:

“‘They don’t have PTSD because they are not ‘post,'” Newman said. “‘They are living it daily.'”

I loved this article. It’s easily been one of my favorites so far. I thought it was interesting, and I loved how they used real journalists to talk about the issues. The examples are things journalists face every day, things I may face. It also offered confirmation for the research I’ve found so far.

Articles like this make this blog assignment not so terrible.

Like I said in the beginning, I’m going to take a few more days to make sure I have all the research I need, then I’ll close off and move on to Segment 4.

Until tomorrow, bye.



Post #11 (4/25)

Hello again.

Yesterday, I said I wanted to go further into a few of the resources found at the bottom of my last source. A few I’d actually already discussed, so I found two that were interesting. The thing is, they doesn’t necessarily have to do with trauma on JOURNALISTS, more just normal victims. For this reason, I went back to a simple Google search and came up with some lovely sources I’m going to share with you today.

My first article is from the Poynter website. The author is listed directly below the title, and his credentials can be found at the end of the article, adding credibility. In addition, the article is posted on the Poynter website. I’ve worked with this site before in my journalism classes, so I trust the webpage to know what it’s talking about when it comes to journalism. Though most of the article is a story, the text focuses on traumatic effects of reporting on tragedy told from things he’s witnessed. The tone of the article is more conversational, but still an easy and interesting read. It’s not as professional as others I’ve come across, but when is journalism always professional?

The article describes a gathering of media professionals that talked about traumatic stories they’ve covered in the past, looking for a way to heal and share their narratives they’d told.

“Given the negative experiences many victims and communities have had with journalists around the world, it was uplifting to meet so many at the summit who truly were interested in telling a more complete and restorative narrative… But what was most impressive to me was the sheer amount of tragedy that had been absorbed and shouldered by those in that room. These journalists and artists carried stories of virtually every type of tragedy… war, natural disaster, mass killing, deadly diseases, and horrific human abuse and suffering. I was stunned to feel the weight of the world in that gathering. It was palpable.”

The author also lists things journalists may be affected by: vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma, all of which I’ve seen before. He also notes that the effects are vast and range over a variety of factors, like personal characteristics and event details. He says psychological safety should be a high priority for news organizations.

“The dozens of personal conversations I had during the three day meeting made clearer to me how the impact of trauma was living on in the storytellers, long after the fact checking was complete. As a storyteller dealing with traumatic events, it is virtually impossible to not be affected by the material you are immersed in.”

I love this source. It uses real journalists, and the way it was written was lovely. It wasn’t about statistics or numbers. It just used what real reporters had already gone through. It was a sweet, conversational piece.

My second source for the day isn’t technically a useable source. It’s a book called Trauma Journalism: On Deadline in Harm’s Way. Though I’m sure it’s an interesting read and would have plenty of information to help my research, it’s $90, and I’m poor. BUT… It gives a synopsis I’d love to share.

“The role of journalists in covering trauma and tragedy isn’t new. Witnessing acts of violence, destruction and terror has long been the professional responsibility of countless print and broadcast reporters and photographers.  But what is new is a growing awareness of the emotional consequences of such coverage on the victims, their families and loved ones, their communities, and on the journalists whose job it is to tell these stories.  Trauma Journalism personalizes this movement with in-depth profiles of reporters, researchers and trauma experts engaged in an international effort to transform how the media work under the most difficult of conditions.

Through biographical sketches concerning several significant traumatic events (Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine school tragedy, 9/11, Iraq War, the South Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina), students and working reporters will gain insights into the critical components of contemporary journalism practices affecting news judgment, news gathering techniques, as well as legal and ethical issues. Trauma Journalism calls for the creation – through ongoing education – of a culture of caring among journalists worldwide.”

BAM. There it is. So, I’m not sure if this will directly count as a source, but I wanted to show the fact that there is more research going on about this then one might’ve thought at first, and people are beginning to come to terms with the effects traumatic events can have on reporters. I found the source to be useful in both of those ways, and it’s definitely something I’d like to read in the future.

My last source for the evening is slightly shorter, but still effective. It’s an article posted on the International Journalism website. I’ve never used this before, but a quick glance makes it seem like a blog. The author is listed, but no credentials appear anywhere. Upon clicking on the name, I was prompted to make an account to see the profile. Though it may list credentials after that, I didn’t make the account to see it.

Anyway, the fact that is was posted on a blog makes me a little cautious when using it, but I still find it to be an interesting source and another voice in my conversation. The text analyzes the traumatic effects of journalism and uses pictures and information from the Dart Center, which I’ve used before, to make its arguments. The tone is slightly conversational, but professional. I did find an error in the first sentence. Again, I find the information in the source interesting, and it’s another voice.

It argues journalists need to be aware of their surroundings when working on dangerous assignments, as well as sensitive when working with impacted victims. In addition, journalists will see many of these kinds of events during the duration of their careers, and they bear witness to many horrible things. It urges mental preparation.

“Schmikles states that the time to start mental preparation is well ahead of the day of an assignment, weighing the pros and cons before accepting the assignment and honesty with oneself is essential… She urges that ‘the time to care for oneself emotionally is before trauma gradually erodes your ability to think clearly and deliver your best work.’ Importantly Schmikles concludes that in the end, everyone connected with an assignment has a stake and a role in understanding the normal effects of working in dangerous conditions.”

So, the article wasn’t perfect. It still added another voice to my conversation, and it was still an interesting read. The more research, the better.

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to decide whether I want to continue doing more research and blogging for a few more days or halt and move onto Segment 4. To be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to do right now.

We’ll see tomorrow’s class brings.






Post #10 (4/24)


Today, I figured I could get back a little more towards my exact issue again. After a quick Google search, switching up some terms and what not, I found an article from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics. After a lovely read-through, I found this source to be splendid.

Brought in a new voice from a school too.

SO… Let’s get to analyzing the article. First, I feel it has ethos, because a quick Google search will bring up the author and his credentials, which are very impressive. In addition, this is posted on a part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison website, making it a reliable source. It lends to the importance as well, because Madison is known for its journalism knowledge, so I feel they know what they are talking about. In addition, the text’s purpose is the analyze trauma and journalists: the issues, responses, what newsrooms can do, and more. It also included a list of studies published at the bottom for further research. The author’s tone is professional, adding to his credibility.


The article begins with this quote I love.

“If I get killed, I kind of think, so what? People die all the time. I watch people
die. I’d rather it not be me. I want to do more stories.” (Rita Leistner)

It puts journalists’ views into perspective. After that, it starts by describing “trauma as an ethical issue.” It states that journalists are vulnerable to stress and trauma, especially those who deal with conflict and disaster. The results can be devastating, and reporters may turn to abusing drugs or alcohol or struggling in personal relationships. Such things can affect a journalist’s performance. It addresses certain other aspects as well, like the fact that journalists may be targets of terrorists or more media and more violence means more reporters put in danger.

“Therefore, journalists experience:

  • Sustained direct exposure to potentially traumatizing events
  • Secondary or indirect exposure through interviews with traumatized persons
  • Recurring exposure through new assignment.”

When it comes to psychological trauma, the article address it in this way:

“Psychological stress and trauma is real, and a part of life. Neither journalists nor other professionals can escape it. But we should not confuse ordinary, stressful experiences with serious, debilitating trauma. Trauma, like stress, is a matter of degree, and the effects may be temporary. The most serious trauma for journalists is not everyday stress or deadline pressure, but the trauma that results from disturbing, shocking, non-ordinary experiences… Trauma is debilitating when it reaches the stage of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, where symptoms are sustained and interfere with the person’s life and career. Psychological and medical studies have identified processes in the brain and nervous system that correlate with trauma. Trauma is both psychologically and physically ‘real.’ The shock literally enters into the body, and leaves a physiological trace, accompanied by symptoms. It is foolhardy, then, to think that journalists are immune from trauma because of their “strength of will” or their ability to “not get involved” with the story.”

That’s a big chuck to include, but I really feel that paragraph puts trauma for journalists into better words more than any other source I’ve encountered. In addition, it describes trauma, PTSD, and secondary or vicarious trauma with symptoms – all of which I’ve described before. It addresses typical responses to trauma, listing denial, dismissal, and avoidance. It also includes a few comments from reporters who have covered war before, my favorite of which being:

“I don’t know if surreal is the right word, but you don’t feel personally involved. You know it’s horrible, you can see people dying in front of you, you see people burning. You cannot afford to get too involved in this emotionally, or you’re done for.” (Mathew Fisher)

Another piece of this article I found vastly reassuring. Why? Simple – because the study I talked about a few days ago with Anthony Feinstein is talked about in detail in this article and called a “ground-breaking study.” I’m not going to go into big details here, because I have already in a past post, but it gave more credibility to that study for sure.

So why are such attitudes involved? The article lists some interesting points:

*Discussing trauma is not encouraged or may be dismissed as psycho-babble.

*”An admission of emotional distress in a macho world was feared as a sign of weakness and a career liability.” (Feinstein)

*Career ambitions: war reporting gives you a higher media profile; it is difficult to refuse assignments; there is pressure to stay in the field to justify the expense and trouble of getting you there; to prevent other reporters from “taking” your assignment; etc.

*Optimism that you can cover war and return “psychologically unscathed”

*Comforting myths: “My camera protects me.” “I’m too busy to be affected.”

*Denial may be a necessity for continuing to return to war zone.

*No clear signals from employers that it is okay to mention trauma

I found many of these fascinating. Though I’d thought about why such attitudes exist, some of these never even crossed my mind, and it was awesome to see so many options considered.

It then lists things newsrooms can do to help, such as offer confidential counselling or making trauma training part of the ongoing training for war reporters. The last thing this source does is splendid. It lists new development/resources/studies that I can certainly look into for tomorrow’s post, as well as “future directions” such stories may take.

Overall, this source was awesome. I loved how it focused more on including information from real journalists as well as studies to prove it’s point. Tomorrow, I’m looking to dig into those other resources it lists at the bottom more.

For now, peace.


Post #9 (4/20 & 4/21)


Yesterday, I said I was hoping to find information from a historian’s point of view, but after struggling with this for nearly an hour, I opened up to other options and found a source from the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner. The source sounded reliable enough to me, coming from the UN and all. I also thought it would be a change in perspective from the journalists or psychologists talking about the issue. Though it doesn’t necessary discuss the exact psychological effects, it does address the how dangerous journalism is and uses statistics, like the amount of journalists killed in the past few years, to prove its point.  In addition to this, I found a second article that addresses the first. It acts as an announcement for the UN declaring journalism as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world today. I thought it would be useful to add credibility to the first article. Finally, my last source is one I pulled from the announcement article. It links to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website, which shows allows the user to pick a year or country. If a country is chosen, the site will show how many reporters were killed in the country, while if a year is chosen, it’ll show the amount of journalists killed in that year.


My first source for the day is the article from the United Nations. I felt this source was reliable, because it’s the United Nations… Usually if they say something, that something goes. This was published on the United Nations website, specially from the Office of the High Commissioner. It lends importance to my research, because the UN has access to an incredible amount of information from millions of sources, so I find what they are saying to be credible. The text’s purpose is to announce journalism as one of the world’s most dangerous professions and uses statistics and quotes from a Mexican journalist to prove its declaration. The tone is more conversational than other sources I’ve used, yet still professional, adding to credibility and making it an easier read.

The article starts with a quote by Lydia Cacho, a Mexican journalist and rights campaigner.

“One day three years ago, I sat down with all my team and said, ‘Let’s make a safety plan. In case I get murdered, this is what you will do.’ Because that’s what you have to do – we are in a high risk job, and if you don’t accept that, you could be killed and nothing would be done…”

It then goes on to describe statistics that support Cacho’s statement of journalism being dangerous, like the fact that 44 reporters were killed in 2010 and 73 in 2009. The article explains that journalists are essential, and the High Commissioner pledged the support of her Office to a plan to protect journalists.

It addresses Cacho’s personal situation. Her safety was so compromised that a number of organizations stepped up in her defense, urging the Mexican government to implement more to “safeguard freedom of expression.” In response, the High Commissioner would also launch “Yo me declaro” or “I declare myself,” a campaign to rally awareness and support for human rights defenders. Cacho was invited to participate in the event.

It ends with a piece of Cacho’s speech as the campaign launched:

“It (the campaign) reminds us that there are options, that we are still alive, that we are here and that every time that someone tries to violate human rights –be it mine or yours- there will always be someone next to him or her, in the office, at home, in the neighborhood, in the university, that will recognize us as human beings and that will tell us ‘what is happening to you matters to me.’ If we all become human rights defenders, not only organized crime will lose power, but all the corrupt power structures will lose as well.”

My next source, as discussed in the beginning, is a short article in response to the UN’s announcement. It is written by Natalia Mazotte and is featured on a blog. Though not always the most reliable of sources, I found it an interesting partner to the UN’s article. When clicked on, Natalia’s name will bring you to a second page that highlights her credentials, giving this more credibility. The purpose is to describe the UN’s announcement and add information of its own to support the claim. The tone is professional, though the piece is very short. Part of me thinks there would’ve been a larger response to such an announcement, so I’m forced to be careful with this source.

It first discusses the UN’s announcement and the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s quote about the issue:

“Mapping out a UN plan of action on the safety of journalists and to put an end to impunity for perpetrators of violations against them is essential.”

In addition, it addresses UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication and how it is working to propose a plan to protect journalists. The last thing it discussed (and what I found most interesting) is a reference to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Upon clocking on the highlighted phrase, which I find to be WAY too long for web-based journalism by the way, it brings you to a page on the CPJ’s site. At first, it’ll bring you to “74 Journalists Killed in 2012,” but the most fascinating part is it offers the option to pick either a country or a year, and the user can see the amount of deaths in either. For example, 72 journalists were killed in 2015. 61 were killed in 2014. 174 were killed in Iraq (since 1992). I spent a significant amount of time looking through various countries and years, and I found the website extremely interesting.

It took me a few days to filter through these sites and find exactly what I wanted to say. This doesn’t have anything to do directly with the psychological effects I’ve been researching, though I think it ADDS to it. It’s easier to understand why these effects take place when you look at the number of journalists that have been killed just for doing their job. It’s fascinating!

Tomorrow… I have no idea. I’m going to start with a simple Google search again and see where that leads me.

For now…

Peace out.

Post #8 (4/19)


As I said yesterday, I want to tackle the psychological effects on REGULAR reporters today, rather than war journalists. To do this, I found an article called “The effects of exposure to crisis on well-being of journalists: a study of  crisis-related factors predicting psychological health in a sample of Finnish journalists.” It’s a long title, but basically, we’re going to look at the effects on a group of Finnish journalists.


The authors have credibility, because immediately after their names right at the beginning, it lists the universities they are a part of. Note: One of them is actually from the Dart Center, which I’ve used a few times now. In addition, they include a long list of references at the end, so they’re not just pulling this stuff from thin air. This article was published in “Media, War & Conflict”, which lends importance, because that’s the general overlay of my topic. The text’s purpose is to examine the “effects of work-related and personal exposure to potentially traumatic events on PTSD, depression, compassion fatigue and burnout… in 503 Finnish news journalists (238 men, 265 women) by using a web-based survey.” Analyses showed two variables that predicted all four outcomes: “personal exposure to traumatic events, including reactions caused by the event and the magnitude of the worst crisis related assignment experienced as a journalist.” The tone of the piece of professional.


This study looks at “possible effects of previous exposure to potentially traumatic events on domestic journalists’ well-being from a psychological point of view.” Well-being is measured by looking at symptoms of PTSD, depression, compassion fatigue and burnout. It focuses on journalists mainly working in a non-war domestic environment, like Finland.

The article emphasizes that the psychological well-being of journalists hasn’t received a lot of attention, though the amount is growing recently. In addition, research like this is required to prepare journalism students for “future crisis-related work.” It also discussed how PSTD seems to be the greatest result for these reporters, though depression and compassion fatigue are seen as well.

In order to thoroughly research this, the article asked the following research questions:

1. Does frequency of personal exposure to potentially traumatic events have an impact on Finnish news journalists’ well-being?

2. Is there any correlation between nature of personal exposure to trauma and well-being in journalists?

3. Does the frequency of work-related exposure to potentially traumatic events have an impact on journalists’ well-being?

4. Does the nature of work-related exposure influence the impact on news journalists’ well-being?

5. Does the magnitude of the one worst experienced work related crisis affect the well-being of journalists?

6. Can relationships between personal and work-related exposure be found in regard to well-being of journalists?

The researchers gathered a list of Finnish news journalists that varied in age and gender and sent out a survey via email. A variety of tests were used to gather information on past traumatic experiences and possible links to PTSD, compassion fatigue, and depression. Some of these included: the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the Journalist Trauma Exposure Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Professional Quality of Life Scale.

The article goes in detail about how each of the tests were put together and equaled out to generate a conclusive response. Though it was difficult for me to comprehend, any math student may have a field day with it. For the rest of us… The math starts on page 145. Just move on.

Overall, “the results of the study support the statement that reporting on crises may have an impact on non-war news journalists.”

With regards to the research questions…

“One of the research questions posed was whether the amount of previous personal exposure affects the well-being of journalists. In the study, the factor most strongly predicting a decrease in well-being on all four outcome factors measured (PTSD, depression, compassion fatigue and burnout) was the range of traumatic experiences experienced in personal life, including severe distress. In other words, participants with many personal distressing experiences of traumas scored higher on the four scales, thus resulting in a negative long-term impact on individual well-being. This result supports earlier research showing that personal traumatic life events do have an effect on journalists.”

About the research question with the magnitude of worst work-related exposure to crisis:

“Results showed that the larger the crisis, the stronger the effects on level of well-being.” In addition, it “indicates an important fact, pointed out…: one single work assignment involving a crisis scenario may have long-term consequences on a journalist’s well-being if the crisis is sufficiently distressing.”


“In the research questions, possible interaction effects of personal and work-related exposure were also proposed. The results of the study did indicate an interaction effect, namely that a high rate of personal distressing experiences of traumas combined with reporting on a crisis including more distressing components resulted in higher scores on the PTSD scale.”

And finally:

“However, with respect to the research questions concerning the impact of the amount and nature of work-related exposure, the study showed that the amount of experienced crisis-related work assignments did not show any significant relation to well-being in journalists, even after being divided into on the scene and indirect exposure.”

That’s a lot of information to throw all at once, but I find it to be extremely useful. Yesterday, it was easy for me to understand why war journalists suffered from things like PTSD; they’re exposed to things even soldiers have a tough time seeing, but I found it more interesting to see the effect on the average, everyday journalist.

Now, because I just threw around lots of words, I’d like to add a more human touch to all of this. Here is a YouTube video featuring Maziar Bahari, a journalist from Iran. He addresses a study from the University of Toronto about psychological effects that come about from traumatic journalism.

I like this source, because it’s not numbers or a complicated study. It’s a REAL person and journalist talking about what’s happening to reporters in Iran. To be honest, it was a much needed break from the statistics.

For tomorrow, I’d like to look at what more people are saying about the issue. I’ve seen a lot of stuff from psychologists and the like, but I’d love to see what a historian has to say. How has journalism and its reporters changed from when news boomed for the first time?

With that, I take my leave.


Post #7 (4/18)


Today, I wanted to find information on journalists who cover violence – their stories. Doing all journalists at once seemed like a little too much to bite off, so I’m going to focus on war journalists today; they seem like they’d have the most experience for obvious reasons. Later (tomorrow), I want to then focus on average, everyday journalists.

I found three sources today that I found to be wonderful.

The first is a journal article I pulled from Google Scholar. This article has credibility, first, because of where I got it. In addition, the authors list their names right away at the beginning, along with their degrees, which are impressive. They also include a long list of references at the end. It published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, making this a reliable source for my research. The text’s purpose is to study the psychological well-being of war journalists, because they argue there isn’t nearly enough information on the subject. The tone of the piece is professional.

Blah, blah, blah…

Okay, so the article focuses on the lack of information regarding the psychological well-being of journalists. To reach their conclusions, the authors used “self-report questionnaires to assess 140 war journalists, who recorded symptoms of PTSD, depression, and psychological distress.” To account for the stressors involved in all types of journalism (EX: due dates), the authors used the same questionnaires on 107 journalists who had never covered war. Finally, a second phase used interviews with the subjects with one of five journalists from both groups. CNN, BBC, Reuters, CBC, Associated Press, and ITN were the news organizations involved.

The study gathered that there were no demographic difference between the groups. Both genders that covered war had “significantly higher weekly alcohol consumption,” higher scores on the Impact of Event Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory, and a lifetime rate of PTSD of 28.6%. Depression and substance abuse fell in behind that number at 21.4% and 14.3% respectively.

The conclusions: “War journalists have significantly more psychiatric difficulties than journalists who do not report on war. In particular, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD is similar to rates reported for combat veterans, while the rate of major depression exceeds that of the general population. These results, which need replicating, should alert news organizations that significant psychological distress may occur in many war journalists and often goes untreated.”

So what does this mean? Basically, war journalists are having a harder time when compared to average journalists, especially with PTSD and depression. News organizations now need to take the steps to help journalists work through these issues.

One thing I’d like to note is the same outcomes listed in this article were featured in the one from yesterday: PTSD, depression, and substance abuse.


The next article I found is actually written by one of the authors of the previous study, Anthony Feinstein. More information about his work falls in at the end, adding credibility. It’s published on the Nieman Reports webpage, and in the words of Feinstein himself, the article consists of “a psychiatrist examin[ing] how journalists respond to what they witness and report.” The tone is slightly more conversational, though professional.

The reason I trust this guy is because of this phrase: “When I did a thorough computer search of all the medical and psychological literature, I failed to find a single article devoted to this subject. In an era that has seen a dramatic increase in research devoted to the psychological effects of trauma, the subject of war and journalism had largely escaped attention.”

It made me feel better about the major lack in professional articles I’ve been able to find so far on, say, the UWEC library archives (which I hate anyway, so whatever).

The author goes on to describe PTSD and its major three symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, and arousal ( “…the heightened responses of the body’s nervous system that may manifest as a startle response, an expectation of further violence even in situations deemed safe”). The first study he describes is the one featured in the previous article, but he goes on to describe two more.

The first took place after 9/11. The author used a group of 46 journalists that had previously never been exposed to war, but now had to cover the attacks. He found PTSD to be common among this group, but after a year, their responses returned to normal. He uses this to conclude that ongoing exposure has an extra effect on war journalists.

The second (third) study “looked at whether embedded journalists are at greater or lesser risk for developing PTSD and major depression when compared with their unilateral colleagues. Data from the war in Iraq reveal no differences between the groups: Their psychological scores are virtually identical.”

Feinstein concluded that journalists who spend a decade or two covering conflict are resilient, physically and psychologically, but it is “inevitable that when faced with intermittent danger of life-threatening magnitude, year in and year out, some will develop psychological problems.”

Lastly, he states that the responsibly now falls to news organizations to give journalists the help they need, though he applauds CNN and BBC who are already making an effort.

Overall, this article gave me more information and studies to reinforce the other research I’ve come across so far. It also made me feel better when he said he couldn’t find a ton on the topic either.

My last source is a YouTube video posted by the University of Kansas. It features Goran Ghafour, an Iraqi journalist who also reinforces my other research. He received threats from ISIS after writing a piece and says journalists in Iraq do suffer from PTSD, insomnia, constant fear, and nightmares because of everyday violence, though they have to keep going because “it’s a responsibility.”

My research today was lovely. I found that it reinforced much of my research so far, and that made me feel better. At least I’m somewhat on the right track.

Tomorrow, I want to look at the more casual journalists, like those New Yorkers who got thrown into covering 9/11 and what they went through.

Tapping out in 3..2..1.. BYE.



Post #6 (4/17)

Hello again.

Today, I am beginning Phase 2, the lovely task of digging deeper into the psychological effects of journalists covering violence or crime-relates stories. Here’s my plan for the day. As I said in a few days ago, I want to start with the risk factors and talk about PTSD and depression.

So, let’s get started with that. Risk factors were listed out brilliantly here.

This source is reliable, as far as I can tell. The authors are listed at the top of the page, and one of them is actually a professor. I know this, because upon clicking on their names, it opens to another page for each with a list of credible information about their careers. This, along with a list of references is also located at the bottom. In addition, this was posted on the Dart Center website that specializes in discussing journalism and trauma, perfect for my research. To reiterate the article’s purpose, here is the first few lines that provide a description:

“An overview of current research on the occupational hazards for journalists covering traumatic events, the risk factors that aggravate those effects, and some suggestions for mitigating those factors.”

This purpose is relevant to my research, because it conveys a great amount of general information that I hadn’t previously considered and also gives me a list of references to continue through. The author’s tone seems professional, giving more credibility.

I’m not going to list all of the risk factors, but here are a few that stuck out to me: exposure to a greater number of traumatic assignments and the frequency of the exposure, exposure to higher intensity assignments and the types of assignments (war, drug-related conflicts), time in the field, personal history and characteristics (empathy, temperament, styles of coping), social support, and cognitive factors. The reason I found these so interesting is because it takes into consideration the personal history and characteristics of a reporter, reinforcing my point about how each reporter is different and these stories can all have a different effect. In addition, it showed me factors I had never previously considered, though I know now are vital, such as social support from colleagues or friends.

So what can these risk factors lead to?

The main ones listed are PTSD, depression, and substance abuse.

Let’s start with post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Oxford Dictionaries, PTSD is “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.” also describes it as “a common anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.”

A study conducted on the Dart Center article conveys different types of journalists involved with different violent situations and the outcomes.

Notice certain ethnicities and people working with specific cases have varying numbers. For example, the Mexican journalists studied have a much high number than some of the other groups, as do the reporters from South Africa. Overall, this study found the ranges to be between 4 and 59%.

Now onto depression. According to the Mayo Clinic webpage made by the Mayo Clinic staff, “depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest… It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.” Some symptoms can include:

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems
  • Sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness

These rates in journalists (back to the Dart Center article) are much lower than those of PTSD, ranging from less than 1 to 21%.

Substance abuse is last. According to Oxford Dictionaries, it is the “overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.”

The Dart Center ran a variety of tests for this category and came out with these results: examined among war correspondents – 14%; examined among journalists working with User Generated Content material – 15.4% (male) and 17.4% (female).

Throughout this research, I have found PTSD to be the biggest issue of these three. To see how they deal and describe with this issue and give myself a starting place for tomorrow, here’s a YouTube video I found on how affected the reporters write violent stories.

This is what I’m thinking for tomorrow based on all of this: more opinions from journalists.

BAM. Done.


Post #5 (4/14)

Over the past few days, I’ve really been struggling to focus my research. I have a general idea of what I want to pursue, but to be honest, I’m nervous about the lack of information in my first few searches.

As a reminder, I started with discussing the psychological effects on journalists when covering violence and crime, then switched towards learning about how teaching and practicing this in the classroom will better prepare student journalists for what they may face. It’s the second topic that’s giving me grief.

This is why I have chosen NOT to revise my question. I’m going to stick with the psychological effects on journalists who cover violent stories. Why? First, I’m much more interested in it, and it won’t be a chore to continue researching. Second, I found a lot more information on this, and I’m confident people working in a variety of other fields will have a say on the matter. Some examples are people who deal in psychology (obviously) or people who study history (Have the effects changed since the time of the Civil War?).

So let’s talk contingency. There are many alternatives to this issue. Here’s why. First off, I believe it depends a lot on the reporter. For example, before I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I thought I wanted to do something in the medical field, and I sought out a nurse to follow. All day, she drew blood, ran tests, etc., but not once did I feel queasy or uncomfortable at the sight of blood. On the other hand, my friend studying journalism at UW-Oshkosh thought she too wanted to do something in the medical field, BUT she nearly passed out at the sight blood when a patient came in with a bad cut. This is a slightly off example, but hopefully, you can see how we’d both react differently if we were assigned to a crime story.

My point is every reporter is different. Every story is different. If my friend was immobilized by the sign of a bloody cut, how would she react to a folder sitting on her desk when she came into work, saying she was going to cover a mass suicide?

Now, I’m going to invent some Kairos. There is nothing special about today as compared to years ago when it comes to the psychological effects of violence on journalists. Or is there? Every day, stories are changing, and the reporters covering them are forced to adapt. What if you were a reporter who was used to covering the agriculture in the community and you were sent overseas to cover ISIS? Now, this is a very extreme example that doesn’t happen often in newsrooms, but even using a normal war reporter, how does being over in the Middle East for six months, then coming home, change him or her?

My point: we live in a constantly changing world, and unfortunately, one that is increasingly violent and complicated. Journalists HAVE to understand what can mentally happen to you over the course of their career and how to protect themselves, ask for help if they need it. The time is NOW to start learning more about this to protect our press.

Where am I going to go with my research? Good question. I want to start with learning more about the risk factors involved with journalists covering violence. This article was a good starting point for that. After that, it seems that PTSD and depression are the biggest threats to the press, so I want to look deeper into those. Perhaps I can identify specific risk factors between the two points. In addition, I want to speak to real, experienced journalists and see if anything like this has ever affected them. My journalism teacher once told us a story about covering a plane crash, but she couldn’t react on the scene. She had to wait until later in private. What does that do to a person? I also want to look into ways to prevent such things from happening, partially because I think it’ll round out my research, but mostly because I’m curious for myself.

None of this includes different routes I’ll probably take when I’m eight clicks into an article, but that’s what I have in mind now.

This is important, because our world is violent and complicated, and journalists have to jump into it every day. Some may be able to blissfully write a column about flowers for the rest of their careers, but most cover current events, which haven’t been happy lately. It’s important to understand what can happen to the press after covering years’ worth of crime in a small town or Middle East. I’d like to think they’d reach out for help if they need it, but I know I wouldn’t.

This is why it matters. In my case, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. When I walk out of Eau Claire with a journalism degree, I can’t change my mind and go be a scientist. I want to know how the field changes people, if at all. Audiences should care, because these are the people delivering them all their news. It doesn’t matter if it’s on our phones or a 5 o’clock broadcast. It’s journalists who are diving into stories and telling them for the world to hear. If these people are suffering from years of covering violence and crime, we need to recognize it and offer help – for the sake of the reporter and all the people who need news.

Thank you.