Self care for journalists
It is increasingly recognised, within Australia and internationally, that reporting on suicide and mental illness can have a profound effect on journalists. This includes reporting on and interviewing people impacted by suicide such as the bereaved. These effects can range from temporary discomfort to more long-term distress. This can happen at any time, even to experienced journalists who have covered simliar stories for many years and have not been affected in the past.
As a media professional or student, it is important to be aware of the potentially distressing nature of this work and be prepared to seek informal or professional support if required. The Mindframe National Media Initiatve, in consultation with the Dart Centre Asia Pacific, have developed the following information and resources about journalism and trauma covering tips to safeguard the wellbeing of journalists as well as issues to consider when reporting suicide and other traumatic incidents.
Reporting on suicide and mental illness can be distressing for media professionals, especially if they have been exposed to these issues in the past. Journalists often witness graphic evidence of death, other people's distress, or are required to interview people who are bereaved or in shock.
Mindframe: Self-care tips for media reporting on suicide and mental illness
For newsroom managers
Media organisations have a duty of care to their employees to ensure there are strategies in place to prepare and support staff covering suicide and mental illness. Line managers have a vital role to play in modelling and encouraging self-care as well as providing direct support to staff and identifying staff who may require professinal support.
Mindframe: Tips for
editors, news directors
and line managers
Mindframe: When to
recommend staff seek
The Mindframe project team would like to thank Heather Forbes, Manager of Staff Development at ABC News, and Cait McMahon, Managing Director at Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma-Asia Pacific, for their contribution to the development of the self-care tips for media reporting on suicide and mental illness. You can find Q&As with Heather Forbes here or with Cait McMahon here.
The Mindframe website provides additional information:
Story sources and contacts - current details for organisations which can provide comment or further information;
Evidence and research about suicide in the media and Evidence and research about mental illness in the media - links to the international research as well as Australian data;
Project team - details of how media can access immediate support and advice from Mindframe.
The Dart Centre for Trauma and Journalism offers a range of specialised training materials for journalism staff, including:
Best Practices in Trauma Reporting - How and where does one begin to learn how to write about violence and trauma?
Tragedies and Journalists - A 40-page guide to help journalists, photojournalists and editors report on violence while protecting both victims and themselves.
Covering Children and Trauma - When children are victims of violence, journalists have a responsibility to report the truth with compassion and sensitivity.
Please contact the Mindframe project team if you need further assistance:
Telephone: 02 4924 6904
Fax: 02 4924 6909