Newsrooms Grapple With PTSD As Graphic Footage Becomes More Common

If you haven’t seen the recent execution of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh by ISIS, you’re lucky. It’s absolutely horrifying. In the video, ISIS burned to death al-Kasasbeh, who was captured on December 24. It ends with them dropping concrete debris on his charred body, destroying the cage they kept him in as he burned alive.

This video, along with the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and other nationals captured by ISIS, has newsrooms grappling with a potentially serious problem within their work environments: mental health issues. The rise in graphic footage is often left to younger social media editors, who might not be able to handle the horrific scenes of brutality. As a result, the chances of these staffers becoming afflicted with post-traumatic stress rises dramatically (via Poynter):

The ISIS video – one of several of the terror group’s propaganda films showing killings – prompted intense debate over whether or not news sites should publish such footage. In particular, Fox News received both ire and praise for its decision to post the video in full.Not as common, though, were conversations about the journalists tasked with watching and vetting potentially upsetting user-generated content.

Bruce Shapiro, executive director of The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, says the traumatic impact of viewing disturbing footage is something that newsrooms must address. War correspondents aren’t the only journalists at high risk for post traumatic stress disorder, he explained.