Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

How can COVID-19 reporters cope?

Illustration courtesy of Haya Halawah/Beyond Conflict

“In their pursuit of a story, journalists often find themselves in stressful situations that take an emotional or mental toll,” reporter Cynthya Gluck writes in a recent column for The GroundTruth Project. 

Gluck interviewed Beyond Conflict neuroscience researcher Mike Niconchuk to find out the effects of covering COVID-19 on journalists’ mental health and what newsrooms can do to support reporters and editors.

To demonstrate how differently people respond to traumatic events, Niconchuk offered an example of two journalists he knew working in Beijing during the coronavirus lockdown. One performed music regularly and “posted about productivity on social media, the other is admittedly depressed living under the circumstances,” Gluck wrote.

“Both friends are showing signs of denial…Hyperproductivity and ‘hypoproductivity’ are equal coping mechanisms despite how they differ in societal acceptance.”

The “hyperproductivity high” is a trap lurking for journalists, doctors, photographers and others on the front lines.

“It is very easy to let that become an addiction and let it become a very damaging coping mechanism over time,” he said.

Read on to discover different ways our brains confront uncertainty, strategies to self-regulate and how editors can help alleviate stress. Subscribe to GroundTruth’s Navigator newsletter here.