Dr. Elana Newman, research director for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and Naseem S. Miller, senior health editor for The Journalist’s Resource, assembled a list of resources for coping with trauma as part of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in June 2021. Here are their recommendations.
- Self-Care Tips for News Media (The Dart Center): These tips are offered as suggestions only, to assist in fostering healthier newsrooms and better journalism. They are based on research findings on well-being and resilience and the practical experience of news professionals in the field.
- Safety and Self-Care Strategies for Every Beat (The Dart Center): Video, where a panel introduced safety, security, and self-care strategies that should be in every reporter’s toolkit, for assignments ranging from neighborhood beats to disasters, mass shootings, and investigative projects.
- Mindfulness Training for Journalists (The Dart Center): On September 10, 2015, the Dart Center hosted a special half-day workshop on mindfulness practice, led by teachers from the monastic community founded by poet, author, and activist Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Chair Yoga for Journalists (The Dart Center): This 11 minute chair yoga by former foreign correspondent Kimina Lyall, deputy director of the Dart Centre Asia Pacific is for media practitioners working at their desks or working from home. You do not need to be a yoga practitioner.
- How journalists can take care of themselves while covering trauma (The Poynter Institute): Journalists can’t properly cover trauma if they’re suffering themselves — here’s a guide to self-care.
- Under Pressure: Coping with stress, and knowing you’re not alone: A tip sheet compiled by Ken Armstrong, senior reporter at ProPublica.
- 6 tips for protecting your mental health when reporting on trauma (International Journalists’ Network): These techniques may help journalists build [their] own resiliency and learn how to report sensibly on trauma-related issues.
- Choosing a Psychotherapist (The Dart Center): A guide for journalists seeking therapy for personal or work-related issues.
- The Journalist Trauma Support Network: A pilot program training therapists to help journalists.
- U.S. Journalism Emergency Fund and Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund (International Women’s Media Foundation): The IWMF is partnering with the Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund for this joint effort to provide emergency funding to Black journalists.
- AAPI Journalists’ Financial Assistance for Mental Wellness: “his fund, created in partnership with AAJA, is designed to provide financial assistance specifically for AAPI journalists to help you get the support you need during this time. There are no therapists designated for this fund, so the money can be used at your discretion, whether it’s to continue seeing your current therapist, to see a therapist for the first time, or to pay for your medication.
Apps and Online Tools for Self-care
- Insight Timer: A free library of thousands of guided meditations.
- PTSD Coach: Developed by the [US Veterans Affairs department], the app provides education about PTSD, information about professional care, self assessment and tools to manage stresses of daily life with PTSD.
- Mindfulness Coach: Developed by the VA, the app has been shown to be effective in reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and helping with anxiety and depression.
- Insomnia Coach: Developed by the VA, the app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
- COVID Coach: Developed by the VA, the app supports self-care and overall mental health during the pandemic.
- Provider Resilience: The app is designed to help users to stay emotionally healthy while remaining productive. Although it’s designed for healthcare providers, it can be useful for journalists.
Resources for Managers
- Tips for Managers and Editors (The Dart Center): These tips are for managers and editors to help them prepare and support the reporters who do this difficult and important work.
- Leading Resilience: A Guide for Editors and News Managers on Working with Freelancers Exposed to Trauma (The Dart Center): A collaboration between ACOS Alliance and Dart Centre Asia Pacific, this guide is designed to help editors and managers understand and support their teams. It is divided into five sections covering both general information and specific suggestions and tips for working with freelancers.
- Managing Stress & Trauma on Investigative Projects (The Dart Center): A tip sheet from [Dart’s] Executive Director Bruce Shapiro, originally released at the 2005 Investigative Reporters & Editors Annual Conference.
- How to add well-being to a newsroom natural disaster plan (Radio Television Digital News Association): Five strategies for any news team.
- Newsroom depression: Warning signs and strategies (Radio Television Digital News Association): This is a checklist of some of journalists’ vulnerabilities to emotional illnesses.
- Are you ready for trauma in your newsroom? New research may help (Radio Television Digital News Association): Managers who may have never experienced large-scale shocking events may lack needed experience to successfully navigate staff through unexpected emotional landmines. In Oklahoma City the [news] leaders learned these lessons.
- Online Abuse: A Self-Defence Guide (The Dart Center): Online abuse and harassment come in many forms, from borderline incivility all the way up to systematic attacks that are engineered to inflict real psychological harm. This guide offers some thoughts on managing their potential impact.
- Maintaining Boundaries with Sources, Colleagues & Supervisors (The Dart Center): This tip sheet, drawing on interviews with nine leading women in journalism and other sources, offers strategies for recognizing, mitigating, and addressing sexual harassment and other predatory behavior while reporting.
How Our Work Affects Us
- Covering Trauma: Impact on Journalists (The Dart Center): An overview of current research on the occupational hazards for journalists covering traumatic events, the risk factors that aggravate those effects, and some suggestions for mitigating those factors.
- How journalists’ jobs affect their mental health: a research roundup (The Journalist’s Resource): Journalists report on complex and difficult topics, including natural disasters, political violence, and human suffering. These summarized studies that look at how occupational stress affects journalists’ mental health.
- Journalists are under stress. What’s the solution? (The Journalist’s Resource): A large body of research shows how journalists’ jobs can pose a risk to their mental health. Based on that body of research, these are tips on preventing and addressing the stress and trauma of reporting the news.
- News managers are traumatized, too (Radio Television Digital News Association): Terror attacks, natural disasters, and other deadly events send shockwaves of trauma throughout newsrooms and entire organizations. Managers can feel guilt, regret, and secondary stress reactions when the journalists they manage suffer from traumatic events.
- Trauma & Journalism handbook (The Dart Center): The handbook distills the expertise of international trauma experts.
- Mental health and journalism (International Journalists’ Network): A six-part podcast series featuring interviews with reporters and mental health experts.
- Journalism and Trauma (self-directed course on Poynter): This course will teach you how traumatic stress affects victims and how to interview trauma victims with compassion and respect… [and] how to take care of your own health after covering a traumatic event.
- Covering Mass Tragedies: Tips, story ideas, resources, and words of encouragement by members of the Journalists Covering Trauma Facebook group.
- Covering Sensitive Issues and Coping with Trauma: Moderated by Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium Coordinator Hana Carey, the panel focuses on reporting on sensitive issues and recuperating from traumatic experiences in the field.
- Mental Health for Journalists (Journalist’s Toolbox): This page features resources for journalists with mental health needs and also links for covering mental health.
- When the News Breaks the Journalists (J-Source): Journalists talking honestly about mental illness.
Elana Newman is a professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa and research director for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. She is past president of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies and co-editor of “Trauma Therapy in Context: The Science and Craft of Evidence-based Practice.”