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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What is moral injury, and how does it affect journalists covering bad stuff?

Thomas Ricks
Foreign Policy
Originally published September 5, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

They noted that moral injury is the damage done to a “person’s conscience or moral compass by perpetrating, witnessing, or failing to prevent acts that transgress personal moral and ethical values or codes of conduct.”

While not all journalists were affected the same way, the most common reactions were feelings of guilt at not having done enough personally to help refugees and shame at the behavior of others, such as local authorities, they wrote.

Journalists with children had more moral injury-related distress while those working alone said they were more likely to have acted in ways that violated their own moral code. Those who said they had not received enough support from their organization were more likely to admit seeing things they perceived as morally wrong. Less control over resources to report on the crisis also correlated significantly with moral injury. And moral injury scores correlated significantly with guilt. Greater guilt, in turn, was noted by journalists covering the story close to home and by those who had assisted refugees, the report added.

Feinstein and Storm wrote that moral injury can cause “considerable emotional upset.” They noted that journalists reported symptoms of intrusion. While they didn’t go into detail, intrusion can mean flashbacks, nightmares and unwanted memories. These can disrupt normal functioning. In my view, guilt and shame can also be debilitating.

The article is here.
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