Trauma Amongst TV News Crews: An exploration of role differences and crew solidarity


Background: Past research indicates that TV news journalists’ ongoing exposure to trauma can result in psychopathology. However, currently we know little about potential differences in trauma exposure between journalistic roles, such as camera-operator and reporter. Similarly, previous research has not considered whether trauma exposure and reactions differ depending on whether news workers are working individually or within a crew. Such knowledge would elucidate what resources and support are necessary, as well as how to best implement these to meet the needs of specific news crewmembers. Aims: The aims of the research were to: 1) explore role differences in trauma exposure amongst camera-operators and reporters, and 2) consider the importance and functional role of relationships amongst crewmembers. Method: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 TV news camera-operators and reporters. Data analysis was conducted according to a systematic and transparent thematic analysis. Results: There are considerable differences in the experiences of trauma exposure between camera-operators and reporters. There is also a range of organisational differences experienced based on one’s journalistic role, which serve as potential points of conflict within the crew. However, both camera-operators and reporters emphasise the importance of the relationship amongst crewmembers in times of trauma exposure, as opposed to their own individual experiences. The capacity to work with other crew simultaneously reduces physical and psychological risks and improves the quality of the journalistic product. Conclusions: Crew solidarity functions as a protective factor for news crewmembers exposed to trauma and other work-related stressors, despite potential interpersonal conflicts based on role differences. Through realising the benefits of crew relationships and employing readily available social capital, the workplace can be part of the resilience building process. The findings are used to suggest means by which news organisations can foster crew relationships that are healthy, productive, and that enhance recovery.


MacDonald, J. B., & Fox, R. (2017). Trauma Amongst TV News Crews: An exploration of role differences and crew solidarity. Singapore Conference of Applied Psychology, 29–30 June. Singapore. (Paper)