Opinion | Recognize reporters for their bravery

By Neshmia Malik, Columnist

This past week, I attended a presentation by Marcella Raymond, a reporter for Chicago’s WGN. She discussed the importance of recognizing emotional help in the field of journalism and how reporters can experience events that can potentially take a toll on their emotional stability. 

One of the main focuses of her talk was her experiences with the traumatic and distressing events that came with her reporting duties; these issues led to her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. She discussed how to prevent mental health disorders from arising or controlling them in a way where your work doesn’t affect it. 

So, how often have you thought about the stress that comes with being a journalist? Society is often pressured with understanding mental health in fields that take a lot of “toughness,” per se. 

My sister, an aspiring social worker, has been constantly taught to separate herself from the field in order to stay emotionally stable throughout her work process. Careers like these teach society to remember that the helpers need help too. Although this is a fair assumption to make, many other careers are left in the periphery of society’s sympathy. 

Society is also encouraged to understand the pressures of being a first responder, such as a firefighter or police officer. These individuals are often looked at as heroic for putting their lives in danger for the sake of others. 

What about the people that put their lives in danger to restore justice? Reporters are on-scene just as much as police officers and firefighters are, making them first responders as well. Yet, they are hardly recognized for their bravery. 

Being a reporter comes with exposure to raw evidence of all sorts of traumatic stories. Raymond mentioned how from her more than 30 years of experience, she had been on the site of several shootings and murders of families and their loved ones. 

Imagine talking to someone who had just lost their child to a shooting. How would you be able to contain that emotion? A scenario such as this one could happen the next day, week or consistently over time. You are encouraged to separate your career from your personal life and not let the events consume you, but when you’re on the scene of tragic events back-to-back, it can become emotionally draining. 

Reporters need to be seen as just as brave and heroic as other first responders, for they put their lives on the line to uncover the truth. There needs to be a larger focus on recognizing the work reporters do and how it can take a toll on their mental health. This is not because I am an aspiring journalist myself; it’s because everyone deserves to be understood and have mental stability in the careers they follow.

Neshmia is a sophomore in Media.

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