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New book looks into impact of trauma on journalists

Two journalism trainers have published a major new book looking into the emotional trauma experienced by journalists as a result of their role as the ‘fourth emergency service.’

Sheffield University lecturers Lisa Bradley and Emma Heywood have carried out a wide-ranging study into the causes and effects of trauma experienced by journalists in all its forms.

The book, entitled Journalism as the Fourth Emergency Service, covers ‘first-hand trauma’ – experienced from directly witnessing traumatic events at the scene – and ‘vicarious trauma’ resulting from constant exposure to distressing material, for instance in court reporting.

It also covers ‘cyber-triggered trauma’ resulting from exposure to online bullying, harassment and abuse from the public.

The book, pictured above, has been described as “essential reading” by Press Association emeritus editor Jonathan Grun.

Former local newspaper journalist Lisa said: “The trauma experienced by journalists is more prevalent than ever – not limited to war and foreign correspondents, but court reporters, regional reporters, local reporters – who experience everyday distress from being at the coal face of raw human emotion day in day out.

“Exhaustion, post-traumatic stress, and emotional burnout is forcing the next generation of training journalists to leave the industry – a massive threat to democracy.

“We want this book to not only shed light on this shady side of the industry, but as a toolkit to  editors, reporters, and journalism educators to help build resilience and protect the future of  newsrooms.

Added Emma: “Journalists throughout the world are increasingly working in situations where trauma, in one form or another, dominates. Whilst journalists’ physical and psychological reactions to trauma may be similar, cultural understandings of trauma differ and coping strategies may not be in place.

“This book not only provides wide-ranging accessible trauma resilience resources for students, professionals and educators, but also offers experiences from multiple environments and countries to enable readers to better understand, recognise and address trauma in journalism.”

Endorsing the book, Jonathan said: “Journalists head towards danger when everyone else is running away. They see things that are the stuff of nightmares. They can be viciously trolled for telling the truth.

“The work is exciting and important— but there can be a heavy price to pay in trauma that can last a lifetime. This important book is essential reading for journalists and those concerned about their welfare.”

Ian MacGregor, editor emeritus at the Telegraph and chair of the Society of Editors added: “In this increasingly complex and challenging world, there is a real need to consider extra mental health support for journalists. This book is a very valuable addition to that debate.”

The paperback is available on special offer priced £15 until the end of April by emailing [email protected] with code JFES40. The e-book can be downloaded for free at