Under Pressure

It’s been a brutal few months for journalists across all spectrums of the media.  Almost on a daily basis, we’re covering some of the most traumatic events around the world.

Terror attacks in Belgium, Istanbul and Nice.  Shooting massacres in Orlando and Munich and senseless acts of violence like those seen in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Japan.

There have been plenty of other confronting stories that radio newsrooms across the country cover each and every day.  Even the death of icons like David Bowie and Prince can be emotionally draining.

Journalists are also often privy to details of crimes or tragedies that are too graphic to rebroadcast. But the simple act of processing the info, digesting it and then going to air takes a toll.

We’ve touched on it before, but given we seem to be in a ‘cycle’ of violent events, it’s worth again reflecting on the impact it can have on journalists of any experience.

You don’t have to be ‘in the field’ to be affected by the traumatic nature of some of news.  Processing and disseminating these facts can also leave their mark.

Sometimes it can be the smallest of things that can trigger a reaction. One journo has spoken of the smell of petrol on a cold winter’s morning taking them back, in an instant, to a bad road accident years ago. Even driving past the scene of a traumatic event can ‘bring it all back’.

The one thing to remember is that it’s normal to feel numb or shattered after a shift.  Even good old ‘gallows humour’ is a coping mechanism.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or down, HR departments can be an invaluable resource. Talking to your peers can also help.

Journalism sites like Poynter.org and dartcenter.org have some great tips on how to recognise and deal with the stresses of covering traumatic events.

And as we wait for the next ‘big’ event, take some time to ‘switch off’ and recalibrate, because you know it won’t be long before we go through it all again.  Unfortunately.

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