Trauma survivors and the media: A qualitative analysis
Keywords:victimology, journalism, survivor support, criminal justice, trauma-informed, homicide, traffic fatalities
While much has been written about how the media covers traumatic events, little is known about the impact of the media on trauma survivors. This, despite the fact that crime coverage has been a staple of daily news cycles for several decades. Likewise, little has been written about the training and methods of the journalists who cover these events, or the impact of this coverage on the journalists. Based on 71 qualitative surveys and interviews with homicide and traffic fatality survivors, and 22 qualitative surveys of journalists, this article serves to describe five main themes regarding survivor experiences: 1) Prior experience with the media; 2) First encounters with the media; 3) Negative impacts of the media; 4) Positive impacts of the media; and 5) Advice for various stakeholders. Additionally, this article will describe three main themes highlighted by the journalists: 1) Trauma-informed training and guidelines; 2) Comfort in contacting survivors; and 3) Personal impact of reporting on trauma. These findings illustrate a clear gap in services available to survivors, in particular in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events when media attention is often at its highest, as well as a lack of support for journalists covering these events.
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