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From Danger to Trauma

Affective Labor and the Journalistic Discourse of Witnessing

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Abstract

According to recent reports on violence committed against journalists, journalism is a dangerous, fear-inspiring job. In the wake of Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder in January 2002 and the less-publicized but equally brutal killings of journalists in Bangladesh, the Philippines, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other locales around the world, the international community of foreign correspondents has become particularly concerned for its safety in zones of conflict. Yet, outside of war zones, and in U.S. newsrooms in particular, reporters and news photographers who cover domestic beats and work on general assignment are also being represented, through risks to their safety and mental health on the job, in ways that depict what John Durham Peters calls ‘the weighty baggage of witnessing’: the ontological and historical weight of paying witness to events that ‘makes explicit the pervasive link between witnessing and suffering’ and ‘what it means to watch, to narrate or to be present at an event’ (2001, pp. 708–9).

Keywords

  • Affective Dimension
  • School Shooting
  • Covering Violence
  • News Subject
  • News Audience

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

‘The journalist becomes a victim too.’

—Roger Simpson, Director of the University of Washington Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

‘Reporters are victims, too.’

—Reporter Charlotte Aiken in Nieman Reports, Fall 1996

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© 2009 Carrie Rentschler

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Rentschler, C. (2009). From Danger to Trauma. In: Frosh, P., Pinchevski, A. (eds) Media Witnessing. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230235762_8

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