A column written by USA Today editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll discusses the stress and ‘trauma’ experienced by journalists in trying to report news to the American public.
The column, published during the holiday week, points to recent tragic shootings and notes in the field of journalism, “horrific news is the expectation, not the exception.”
But, Carroll writes, reporters often “witness trauma directly,” causing it to “seep into your very being.”
These are valid observations, but the column goes a bit off the rails when the author argues that “journalists are under attack like no other time in American journalism” because of their coverage of the pandemic, along with racism and misogyny in America.
Carroll even finds an expert to suggest journalists carry trauma “on our souls.”
“Journalists carry trauma ‘on our souls’,” USA TODAY Editor in Chief Nicole Carroll for @usatodayopinion. “Our industry, of course, is not the only one. Health care workers, educators, first responders and many others face new pressures.”https://t.co/J0Dq1McFdw
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 23, 2022
Journalists and Their Trauma
The USA Today column suggesting journalists carry trauma “on our souls” is reminiscent of the time NBC’s Katy Tur compared the media’s job to “firefighters who run into a fire.”
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They are the true heroes America deserves … or something.
Carroll goes on to point out that journalists are “resilient,” but provides them with a “self-care plan” to survive the trauma they’ve endured.
In covering recent tragedies, the USA Today editor praised her own reporters in saying that “your professionalism and resilience is remarkable” even as she urged them to talk about their feelings.
“We are all in this together,” Carroll said.
A true band of brothers.
Journalists right now. pic.twitter.com/mLh8kTtFG3
— Ken Bayes (@a_magillacutty) November 23, 2022
Whatever happened to the old adage that true journalists never make the story about themselves? (The notable exception of the great Hunter S. Thompson notwithstanding.) Instead, we have them suggesting they are just like firefighters and their souls have been forever branded with trauma.
Listen, we’re not naive enough to think that certain journalists do not, in fact, experience trauma. War correspondents, for instance, see some of the most harrowing scenes possible.
But reporting on the media’s trauma “on our souls” while pointing to COVID coverage and media sensationalization of race riots is a bit much.
Perhaps if the entire industry didn’t peddle fake news on those matters – the vaccines stop transmission, lockdowns are necessary, the protests were fiery but mostly peaceful – they wouldn’t be under ‘attack.’
And for the record, true firefighters wouldn’t equate criticism to being attacked. If you’re traumatized by criticism, maybe learn to code instead.
Recently, USA TODAY had Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, come talk about trauma, burnout and how to cope. pic.twitter.com/8jWC29nJSd
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 23, 2022
Come to think of it, maybe the criticism would dissipate if journalists were actually good at their jobs.
The only people who think they are, it seems, are journalists.
A Gallup poll this past summer revealed that Americans’ confidence in media – both print and on television – had hit “all-time” lows.
Just 16% indicated they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers, while even fewer – a dismal 11% – expressed confidence in television news.
These numbers are almost as low as they can go. Nice! But more than low numbers, the power of the propaganda press to control elections and political outcomes and drive news cycles needs to be constrained. https://t.co/LTSkVBRoap
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) July 19, 2022
By contrast, a poll by the Pew Research Center a month earlier showed a media isolated from the real world, with 65% of journalists saying they do a good job of accurately reporting the news.
The public clearly disagreed.
My latest for The Hill: https://t.co/68OlkNkZTB
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) June 22, 2022
The media just spent an entire presidential term running stories about Russia collusion and swayed the most recent presidential election by burying a damning story on Hunter Biden’s laptop and suddenly we’re to care about journalists’ trauma and praise their work.
Hard pass, USA Today.
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