Trauma exposure and reactions in journalists: A systematic literature review

Jasmine MacDonald, Gene Hodgins, Anthony Saliba

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


The present systematic literature review (SLR) aims to provide a concise, comprehensive, and systematic review of the quantitative literature relating to journalists’ exposure and reactions to potentially traumatic events (PTEs). Journalists frequently cover stories relating to fatal car accidents, crime, murder, suicide, natural disasters, and various other forms of violence and tragedy within society. Journalists’ exposure to PTEs, high levels of job stress, and anecdotal reports within the industry seem to suggest that journalists are at risk of developing adverse trauma reactions. Such a SLR has not been conducted in this area before. Method: The systematic review method adopted is that prescribed by Fink (2010), which contains three main elements: Sampling the literature, screening the literature, and extracting data. Results: First, journalists’ exposure to PTEs is discussed. This includes consideration of both work-related and personal exposure to trauma. In addition, stalking victimisation of journalists is considered and tends to overlap both the work and personal domains. Second, possible trauma reactions are examined, including journalists’ prevalence and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, stress, and general psychological distress. A range of variables that have been shown to predict adverse trauma reactions in journalists are also elucidated and explored. Conclusions: Understanding the kinds of PTEs journalists are exposed to as well as the trends in trauma reactions is the first step in developing procedures and support structures to safeguard individuals against adverse trauma reactions. Such findings can also be used to inform practice and policy in the international journalism industry. This SLR raises a number of methodological and theoretical issues to be explored and addressed in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventDangerous Journalism: Conference to mark 40th anniversary of the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) - Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
Duration: 30 Nov 201502 Dec 2015 (conference program)


ConferenceDangerous Journalism
OtherThe 2015 JERAA Conference, held at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, considered the theme Dangerous Journalism: as journalism seeks to define itself within the information milieu, it can be increasingly associated with danger. Whether in unstable political environments, hostile legal environments or through financial risk, journalism is re-emerging as a practice that is defined by the threats that shape its substance. Conversely, journalism must continue to distinguish itself from bias, including the menace of what is termed ‘brand journalism’ and such other trends as ‘native advertising’.
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