Traumatic images put journalists at stress disorder risk

Aug 08, 2014, 11:05 IST | IANS

Toronto: Are you a newsroom journalist and stressed? Sanitising some disturbing images that come from public must be your priority else be ready to develop adverse psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 Representational Pic

According to a study, frequent and repetitive viewing of traumatic images by journalists working with live or User Generated Content (UGC) 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 UGC material," said lead researcher Anthony Feinstein from the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

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

The study was done at the newsrooms of three international news organisations.

The participants were 116 English-speaking journalists working with UGC.

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," Feinstein added.

Given that good journalism depends on healthy journalists, news organisations will need to look anew at what can be done to offset the risks inherent in viewing UGC material, researchers said.

"Reducing the frequency of exposure may be one way to go," Feinstein concluded in a paper published in the journal JRSM Open.

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