New study set to count the cost of front-line reporting

While witnessing horrific crimes and reporting of disturbing events might be considered just part of an average day for a journalist, a new study from the University of Western Sydney is set to examine the psychological impact of this work.

UWS Master of Psychology (Forensic) researcher, Ms Beverley Chidgey, says while we rely on journalists to bring us our daily news, we know very little about how journalists handle the emotional effects of covering violence and traumatic events on a prolonged basis.

“Major world events like 9/11, the 2004 tsunami and the continued conflicts in the middle east have generated an increased interest in the coping ability of journalists and their symptoms of stress and trauma, but there is little research to date on the issue,” says Ms Chidgey.

“Historically journalists have been viewed as hardened characters, not susceptible to the effects of covering traumatic events. However, evidence is pointing towards higher levels of trauma-related illness and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among reporters who cover war and other disturbing events.”

“There is some evidence to date that the level of psychological hardiness could act as a preventative mental health factor – motivating journalists to respond to stressful circumstances by turning potential disasters into positive challenges rather than negative.”

Ms Chidgey says the study will examine journalists’ perceived risk of crime and will consider whether levels of hardiness diminish reporters’ fear of crime. It will also look at the relationship between age, gender, length of time in the job, work role and perceived risks and fears.

“I hope to increase the awareness that working in these types of roles may place workers at greater risk and ensure that there are appropriate training and support mechanisms for staff,” says Ms Chidgey.

From Research Australia

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