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LETTER: Journalists face host of workplace hazards

Trust. Credibility. Transparency. Authenticity. All of these play important roles in the relationships people have with their news sources. By several measures, these relationships are shifting in significant, sometimes contradictory, ways – and several reasons for this shift are psychologically driven.

Over the past three years, we experienced some of the most devastating events in recent history. The global health crisis has brought sickness and death, illuminated inequities in our health-care practices, and forced us to make swift and essential lifestyle changes. Words like unprecedented, challenging, pandemic, crisis, death toll, and suffering have become part of our daily lexicon.

For many Boomers and a few of us with greater seniority, we felt a sense of déjà vu as we witnessed age-old racism, accompanied by a new-age Trumpism as it crept into Canada – features of the most vicious, heinous acts of hatred imaginable. Younger generations experienced these events as brand new. We saw institutions of higher learning, businesses, and other organizations, big and small, denouncing and decrying such atrocities.

Throughout all of it, we have relied on the brave and relentlessly hard-working journalists who report on the news of the day. Day after day, year after year, so much of that news was heart-wrenching. And yes, even those journalists who read as biased.

Whether freelancing from behind a desk or reporting live on location, journalists and reporters are at risk of experiencing anxiety, stress, job burnout, sleep disturbance, and PTSD because they frequently cover and/or are among the first dispatched to violent crime scenes or other disturbing events. Viewing such an event even once and interviewing victims and grief-stricken survivors can trigger negative emotional states.

For the rest of us, we see how actively expressing gratitude can lead to positive effects on physical and mental health. Consider offering a note of thanks and encouragement to journalists in your community for their service.

William Perry