PTSD in Journalists


According to research by Anne Killeen (2011) on PTSD in journalists, here were the most stressful events for journalists to cover:

Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said death/illness of a child was the most stressful event to cover. In my research, numerous journalists cited Sandy Hook as one of the most traumatic stories they have covered. It is one of the reasons Rick Hancock got out of the business after 20 years. He recalled, “The kids killed weren’t much younger than my youngest children at the time. The tragedy happened in December. I walked away from journalism for good three months later. I had enough.” Reverend Sidney Tompkins, a licensed psychotherapist and wife of Poynter's Al Tompkins said, “Go back to Sandy Hook. Think about a journalist who has small children covering that story and what that would feel like if you had small children, and you're covering a story where needless, senseless crazy killing of small children is, is what you're doing.” She went on to explain how journalists experience vicarious trauma by interviewing victims that you can relate to on a personal level. She explained, “Vicarious trauma is just saying that it's very easy to slide into the position of the person or the story that you're covering.” Another journalist simply wrote they were not prepared to cover “the worst days of people’s lives.” And this happens over and over again. When discussing trauma, another subject wrote, “Sandy Hook. I had recently become a mom and it was extremely difficult to get through that coverage. I remember crying while editing stories and seeing the faces of the parents and the children.” Another person wrote, “While I wasn’t working at a TV station for Sandy Hook, I have covered some events after the fact, including the 700 page report that was released. I was not prepared to see any of the pictures that were released in that report.”