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BBC World Service | Inside BBC Journalism | Reporters and Reporting
 
  Introduction
  The BBC's Producers' guidelines
  Reporting war: Sally Hillier
  Chemical threats: David Mackie
  Discussing trauma: Mark Brayne
  Hostile environments: Michael Kosmides
  Training journalists: Simon Derry
  Observing local law
 
Mark Brayne

Discussing danger and trauma - by Mark Brayne, former BBC Correspondent and practising psychotherapist

From 1992 to 2001, 389 journalists around the world were killed in the exercise of their profession, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Algeria has easily the worst record, with 60 dead over that decade. Russia follows with 34, then Colombia and former Yugoslavia each with 29.

Dangers of the craft

A growing awareness of the dangers of our craft is changing the way journalists are trained in the reporting of conflict and disaster.

In 1995, the death in Croatia of BBC reporter John Schofield led to the introduction of Hostile Environment Training, compulsory for any member of a BBC team sent to or working from countries experiencing armed conflict or a major natural disaster.

Media organisations worldwide are also considering what our reporting of traumatic events does for our own psychological health and that of our listeners, readers and viewers.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The formal clinical diagnosis for the emotional and physical ill-health that can follow the experience of violence is now defined as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. For years, journalists assumed that since they were only reporting on violence, they wouldn’t be affected.

Allan Little, one of the BBC's former war correspondents, commented in 2001 how he'd once viewed PTSD as an "indulgent, nancy-boy thing." When someone he was working with was killed, he realised how wrong he had been.
He said later, "I became very moody and paranoid, socially dysfunctional and unable to work. The idea that you can spend a decade swanning into war zones … and have a normal life and not be affected in any way really has got to be challenged."

Jeremy Bowen, another BBC correspondent, was deeply affected by the killing of BBC driver and close friend Abed Takoush by Israeli forces in 2000, South Lebanon.

The BBC, in partnership with the US-based Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, is now addressing what the reporting of trauma does to those whose stories we report and to journalists as the re-tellers of those stories.


 
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