Teaching vicarious trauma in the journalism classroom: An examination of educational provision in UK universities

A Research Paper co-authored by Doug Specht and Julia Tsilman, published by Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies

Abstract
The connections between vicarious trauma and the viewing of violent User-Generated Content (UGC) are becoming an increasingly important topic in journalism. As more journalist work begins to rely, or at least incorporate UGC, the risks to journalists have been shown to increase. This can lead to short, unpleasant careers, and in some cases, serious, long-lasting mental health risks. Yet while this discussion is beginning to unfold in the newsroom, universities are lagging behind in their understanding of the topic. This article, through content analysis of undergraduate course materials, and through interviews with lecturers and journalists, found that almost no course in the United Kingdom is teaching the risks of vicarious trauma or UGC. It was found that while some educators wish to make more of the topic, a number of institutional factors, such as lack of training and time, worries over duty of care, and available resources make this a difficult, if not impossible task. The article recommends a new emphasis is placed on vicarious trauma, coupled with training and interdepartmental support.

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Keywords
PTSD
Journalism
Social media
Education
Training
User-Generated Content

Cite as:
Specht, D. and Tsilman, J. 2018. Teaching vicarious trauma in the journalism classroom: an examination of educational provision in UK Universities. Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies 7 (2).

Doug Specht

About

Doug Specht is a Chartered Geographer (CGeog. FRGS) and a Senior Lecturer (SFHEA) at the Communication and Media Research Institute, within the University of Westminster. His research examines how knowledge is constructed and codified through digital and cartographic artefacts, focusing on development issues, and he has written on this subject in numerous books and papers. He has also spoken on topics of data ethics and mapping practices at conferences and invited lectures around the world. He is a member of the editorial board at Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, and sits on BSi committee IST/36 Geographic Information, where he focuses on geographic data in the SDGs. Doug is additionally a trustee of the Santa Rosa Fund, an educational charity; and a core member of the Environmental Network for Central America.

Details

Date
23rd July 2018
Published By
Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies
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