Vicarious Trauma Resources

Blindsided: Journalists and Vicarious Trauma
 was a panel discussion produced by the Forum at the Canadian Association of Journalists national conference in Ottawa on April 29, 2017. 

The conference program introduced the session this way: "We know that anxiety, depression and PTSD rates are high among journalists who put their lives on the line in conflict reporting. Now it's time to recognize a more insidious hazard for journalists working where their physical safety isn't at stake.

Audio of the presenters’ main contributions is made available below for individual listening and for classroom use. Please contact info@journalismforum.ca if you want to download.

Introductions to the panellists:

Dave Seglins suffered an ugly personal encounter with vicarious trauma covering the sado-sexual murder case of Colonel Russell Williams. His personal crisis prompted him to become an advocate for more frank talk within newsrooms about mental health on the job. As a senior journalist with CBC's iUnit in Toronto, his most recent work has included investigations of Canada' national security and surveillance programs, railway safety, money-laundering and off-shore tax havens.

Dr. Anthony Feinstein (University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Hospital) is a psychiatrist best known in newsrooms for his leading work on the mental health of conflict journalists. He is the lead author of a study on the effects of vicarious trauma on journalists who work with user-generated content. The study covered three international news organizations. Dr. Feinstein is also the author of several books, including Journalists Under Fire: The Psychological Hazards of Covering War, many scholarly articles and a recent series in The Globe and Mail profiling war photographers around the world. He is a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma.


Mary Ann Baynton is program director of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. The Centre is a leading source of free, practical tools and resources designed to help all Canadian employers with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues. She also does consulting work for governments, organizations and unions, is a chair of the technical committee for the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, and is executive director of a not-for-profit organization, Mindful Employer Canada. She has written extensively on workplace mental health.

 






Dave Seglins first related his personal experience of vicarious trauma:



Dr. Anthony Feinstein talked about the work which led him to study vicarious trauma in journalists dealing with traumatic user-generated content:




Mary-Ann Baynton discussed the broader context in which journalists encounter these problems:





The moderator asked Seglins and Feinstein to respond to Baynton’s remarks. 
In doing so, Dr. Feinstein introduced the concept of “moral injury”: