Media coverage of the MH17 air disaster has been many things but above all it has been extensive. The public’s thirst for information has been insatiable and journalists from a variety of media have been quick to provide stories as they unfold.
News coverage has raised some ethical issues. The newspaper which ran with pictures of bodies on its front page is surely one.
The reporter who sifted through the belongings of a victim of the crash, and self corrected as he was going to air was guilty of a breach of ethics which may be unforgivable. But it is a breach caused by a human reaction which is more easily understood.
Faced with that field of horror, as a relatively new journalist (and that after all is my ambition) I am not sure what preparation I could make to manage the situation differently. It is part of the human condition that we will all react differently in pressured or tragic situations. Some might laugh inappropriately at very sad news, others might freeze and others may develop verbal ‘diarrhea’.
I do not want to become hardened or immured to tragedy but I do want to report fairly and objectively on the situations presented to me.
So who takes care of the journalist? In the caring and helping arenas, professional supervision for the purposes of debrief, support and advice are an ongoing professional expectation.
Are there similar mechanisms for journalists? Is this a role an employer might take?
What of the freelance journalist? Is there professional support available within the industry? Do reporters develop informal cadres to provide support to each other, or is the outdated picture of the hard drinking, chain smoking journalist still valid?
I ask because I view these questions that need to be answered, as at the core of my training and professional development.
So if anyone can help me, I’d like to know “Who cares for the journalist?”