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Teaching vicarious trauma in the journalism classroom: An examination of educational provision in UK universities

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The connections between vicarious trauma and the viewing of violent User-Generated Content (UGC) are becoming an increasingly important topic in journalism. As more journalist work begins to rely, or at least incorporate UGC, the risks to journalists have been shown to increase. This can lead to short, unpleasant careers, and in some cases, serious, long-lasting mental health risks. Yet while this discussion is beginning to unfold in the newsroom, universities are lagging behind in their understanding of the topic. This article, through content analysis of undergraduate course materials, and through interviews with lecturers and journalists, found that almost no course in the United Kingdom is teaching the risks of vicarious trauma or UGC. It was found that while some educators wish to make more of the topic, a number of institutional factors, such as lack of training and time, worries over duty of care, and available resources make this a difficult, if not impossible task. The article recommends a new emphasis is placed on vicarious trauma, coupled with training and interdepartmental support.
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Keywords: PTSD; User-Generated Content; education; journalism; social media; training

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Westminster 2: The Lancet

Publication date: July 1, 2018

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