Its not atypical for even practiced operators to become fatigued by images they are exposed to, it’s just that we become fairly proficient at the art of concealment.
Veterans of the game, often talk of having to ‘tough it out’. The implication of an operator breaking down seems to show a faint line of weakness, a flaw, and a crack in a veneer that is meant to be impenetrable, much like the correspondent portrayed on the evening news, standing in front of a camera, delivering in a manner of capability and authority, an assessment of a scene behind them.
News crews and reporters are not meant to become the news or be affected by the events they cover, but the reality is, emergency workers, hospital staff, lifesavers and many others who’s occupation puts them amongst those, who most in the community would never experience or understand, are often deeply affected, and unless they find comfort in a kindred spirit, often learn to deal with those emotions alone.
Its organizations like the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and its Austalasian affiliate, that help and assist many reporters, camera crews, photographers and other members of the media during these difficult times.
(Extract from Dart Website)
In addition, many organisations, including my own, have set up Peer Suppport programs that allow staff to become an ear or a shoulder for any who may need support. Those staff selected as Peers, are chosen for their experience and ability to communicate or listen, and in many cases, the Peer simply becomes a source to direct that individual to any further help should they require it.
Peers are not councillors. They are not meant to be. They are there because they have been there, experienced things which allow them to understand.
In my own role as a Peer, a staff member was required to film a deceased person, something he had not done before. He found it confronting but a simple conversation with me, made all the difference to him.
I blogged about it and an article was subsequently published on the Dart Center web site.
The Peer Support program at out network has offered some incredible insight to how people cope and has been of tremendous assistance to those who in most cases, only needed a comforting cup of coffee with someone who understood.