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Stress in the Newsroom and Field

Stress in the Newsroom and Field

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Stress in the Newsroom and Field

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  1. Stress in the Newsroom and Field

  2. Introduction Three main areas in which to focus: Training for Journalists covering War Zones, (or Hostile Environments) Training for Journalists and support staff covering domestic stories Post assignment support

  3. Introduction The Safety and Security of journalists is of concern to all members of NABA. • Newsroom managers • need to be better briefed on the issue of stress to support and monitor our staff • Editors and producers • are frequently asked to screen, edit and write to video, footage that can result in stress. • Reporters, producers and camera operators • are sent to cover potential stress assignments without adequate preparation.

  4. Safety & Security • Management is responsible for the Safety & Security process to support & monitor the well-being of staff. On-the-job stress in our newsrooms and in the field, domestically, is of critical importance. • Training and supporting journalists covering war zones has improved greatly, however training need is greater than ever. • Managers must become more sensitized to pressures and signs of stress. • Post assignment support needs to be developed and implemented

  5. Battlefield Is On Home Turf • Now generally accepted that “Hostile Environments” are much more than “War Zones” • On major domestic stories, such as 9/11 and Katrina, there is a need to have better trained staff to handle these very stressful stories. • From multiple car accidents to demonstrations, our domestic journalists have little training on how to handle the day to day trauma of newsroom assignments... • School shootings in North America forced journalists to confront the deaths of children and young people. • In many of these events the staff covering the stories had little or no training in how to deal with the trauma

  6. The Role of Management Awareness is required by management on responsibility, financial liability, and operational issues. Domestic editors, reporters and newsgathering teams are put in situations of stress, trauma and danger in the course of “getting the story.” Lessons we learned to equip and support international correspondents must be extended to our domestic newsgathering staff. Post assignment debriefing should become routine and stress counselling made available. Written pre-assignment Risk Identification and Assessment should become the norm. A copy of the results should be provided to the journalists. Managers must be aware of staff health issues before dispatching staff – stress is a serious consideration.

  7. The Role of Management Management needs to incorporate into each of the following, the support necessary to manage newsroom stress related to extended coverage of traumatic events. Every newsroom needs: • An emergency preparedness plan. • Including a prepared pre-assignment plan and clear instructions required for what to do to stay on the air. (See NABA presentation on Emergency Preparedness) • Proper health and safety instructions for newsgathering staff. • (Pre-assignment plans to cover all eventualities; an ‘exit strategy’) • Training and support for newsroomstress.

  8. Training and Support for Newsroom Stress • Newsroom leaders must be aware of the trauma continual exposure can have on staff • We assign our staff to view, review, edit and write to traumatic video for hours at a time • … A domestic story like Katrina or the latest pictures from a suicide blast in Iraq. • Young staff with limited experience and training are assigned to handle the stress and trauma induced by the material. • Proper support must be provided to prepare to our staff to handle “video-stress.” • The long term impact of this kind of work must be given the proper focus along with a higher priority.

  9. Training and Supportfor Newsroom Stress • Trauma education must start with our newsroom leaders. • Briefing and training is required on how trauma and stress can affect staff. • Support systems need to be in place for staff. • Post-traumatic stress counselling must be made available • Anonymous access to help, protecting individual’s privacy. • Safety support, procedures and rules need to be available and clear to all newsgathering staff.

  10. Training and Supportfor Newsroom Stress Recommendations Initiate newsroom stress awareness training Ensure that staff handling “video-stress” material are given regular breaks Rotate the assignment of dealing with “video-stress” material Provide support system for staff dealing with newsroom stress 5. We must continue to monitor best practices for training and post assignment support.

  11. Field Staff Stress Recommendations • Establish an operation protocol for staff assigned to domestic assignments that have potential danger. • Newsgathering staff should have emergency first aid training • Equipment needs to be in each newsroom to be available to protect journalists assigned to demonstrations, natural disasters, toxic material fires, etc. • Staff needs to know how to use equipment and it needs to be available 24/7. • Newsroom managers need to know what to look for; what psychologicalsigns, what indications that trauma is affecting our newsgathering staff • Special support for camera operator is needed. • Proper equipment and training is critical to provide crews with the tools to do the job safely.