How to Handle Trauma in Your Reporting Career


Journalists are always among the first respondents when disaster hits. They go to war zones to tell of the horrors happening in different parts of the world. When disease strikes, they are the ones who break the news and follow-through with accounts of how the condition is devastating people. They cover death, suffering, humanity losing hope and other sad tales that remain long after the story has aired. This can be extremely traumatising.

Handling Trauma

The unfortunate bit is that there are journalists who endure traumatic events without seeking help. They imagine it as part of their jobs. There are media houses that have a psychologist to do a debriefing after the coverage of a traumatic event, but there are others that never bother. There have been cases where journalists commit suicide when the pressure becomes too much. Do not get to that point if you are a reporter. Seek help and talk to a professional regularly.

The other way that journalists can avoid being weighed down by trauma is taking a break. No matter how passionate you are as a journalist, always remember that no story is worth your life. Do not keep pursuing stories when you are feeling mentally exhausted. Go on leave. Step away from the newsroom and rest. There are many partner institutions such as the Columbia School of Journalism and Thomson Reuters Foundation that offer psychosocial support to journalists who have undergone trauma in the line of duty.

You should also consider joining a network of journalists around you or create a platform where reporters can talk freely about the stories and events that torment them. You can also have a conversation with your editor on the possibility of changing your beat. For instance, if you have covered wars for a long time, why not switch things up and do food travel reporting. At the end of it all, remember you are in charge of your mental health. You cannot be a superb reporter if you are depressed.