Sense from the senseless : understanding how journalists make sense of everyday trauma
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A significant body of research documents the experiences of war correspondents and the impact covering conflict has on them. Far fewer studies focus on the impact that covering everyday trauma has on journalists. This Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) explores, at an idiographic level, the life worlds of six journalists from sub-Saharan Africa, and how each of them makes sense of the everyday trauma they experience in their work. The findings show that in each journalist's case, witnessing others' pain and trauma had a life changing impact; that empathy helped them cope with what they saw and experienced; and that they shared a tolerance for risk-taking. Journalists are the eyes and ears of the public. The study suggests that if journalists have the necessary emotional tools to cope with the stress they encounter in their work, everyone benefits: the journalists, their media organizations, the people whose stories they tell, and society. It is therefore important to take journalists' emotional coping strategies into account, so as not to cement the notion that feeling numb in the face of emotional trauma is simply business as usual.
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