After the Newtown shootings, my mom said to me, “I never realized how these events affect journalists until you became one of those journalists.”
This afternoon at the AEJMC conference, I attended a panel titled “The Cost of Covering Strife and War.” The panelists – Mark Massé of Ball State, Patty Rhule of The Newseum, and Malini Wilkes, a former Baghdad correspondent for Fox News – discussed the emotional trauma journalists experience while covering war and other traumatic events such as shootings and natural disasters.
Massé made the point of saying educators need to prepare their students to handle the trauma they will inevitably experience and to teach them it is OK to get help.
Overwhelmingly, journalists do not receive therapy for their experiences because it is not an accepted thing to do, Massé said.
Massé’s comments – and my mother’s – illustrate the fact that people often forget that journalists do experience the trauma they are covering. Journalists are not emotionless robots, they are people.
“Journalists are the last of the first responders,” Massé said.
Reporters experience grief and shock, just like the people affected by the event they are covering. They should get the same help afterwards too.