U.S. and Finnish journalists: A comparative study of roles, responsibilities and emotional reactions to school shootings

A3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Klas Backholm, Marguerite Moritz, Kaj Björkqvist
Editors: Glenn W. Muschert, Johanna Sumiala
Publication year: 2012
Publisher: Emerald
Book title: School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age
Title of series: Studies in Media and Communications
Volume number: 7
Start page: 141
End page: 160
ISBN: 978-1-78052-918-9
ISSN: 2050-2060


Purpose: In the chapter, journalistic work ethics on the scene during school shootings and journalists’ psychological stress reactions after such work is studied.

Approach: Findings are based on several qualitative studies carried out separately at different time periods, spanning over a decade. Included cases are one from the US, Columbine (1999), and two from Finland, Jokela (2007) and Kauhajoki (2008). Similarities and differences between cases are pinpointed, and general conclusions are drawn.

Findings: Results show that while technical equipment and publication platforms have developed between cases, journalists’ ethical issues, response to public criticism, and patterns of post-crisis reactions remain similar.

Practical implications: As implications in the area of journalism ethics and stress reactions, the authors conclude that work in crises will be the rule rather than the exception during a journalist’s career. Ethical considerations and individual response patterns to an event interact in complex ways. Personal preparation and knowledge in the area of ethics are of crucial importance for being able to function professionally during assignments.

Social implications: Personal knowledge regarding journalism ethics and psychological stress are of importance, since individual mistakes when informing about a crisis can have long-lasting societal effects.

Value of paper: In the chapter, the authors underline the need to develop a personal understanding of typical crisis-related journalistic work strategies (autopilot/hyper mode), ethical boundaries, and possible stress reactions, for enabling an adequate work approach during assignments. Also, a number of possible predictors for emotional distress in journalists during crisis-related assignments are proposed.

Last updated on 2020-30-05 at 03:49