Since the onset of the pandemic, journalists have provided information, notwithstanding risks the Covid 19 infection pose. Journalists are likened to police officers, firefighters, or paramedics, usually first on the scene and with this can suffer traumatic reactions, slowly developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with most, taking on the jobs without realizing they are unprepared to face trauma until they are faced with anxiety, depression and stress. Psychiatrist, Dr. Reginaldo
Pamugas, vice chairman for the Health Action for Human Rights advises journalists to practice selfcare as much as they can, with the job tagged to be one of the most stressful.

Pamugas works in partnership with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines [NUJP] and UNESCO for peer support training sessions in different parts of the country aiming to help journalists learn how they could effectively handle the stress accumulated from work. Pamugas said the training for the NUJP focuses on effects of stress to media practitioners often characterized by fatigue, trauma and burnout which are prevalent. Pamugas said there is a need for journalists to socialize with other journalists who have similar experiences to be able to relay their thoughts and find validation in their actions.

“It is important for the media to talk among their ranks and exchange experiences, this is more
effective compared if they [the media] talk to a person with a different profession, there will be a
difference of mindsets.” Physical threats also bombarded local journalists with red tagging rising, making security an added concern befalling the industry. Journalists contend with low wages, deadlines, low pay, safety risks and lack of benefits. During the pandemic, media workers lost jobs, got red tagged, got sick, lost family members and battled their own demons.

Pamugas said “The pandemic was different, the media had to deal with the reality that even if they
kept reporting about Covid 19, the deaths would not stop, they felt helpless.” Pamugas is an advocate that media should undergo a debriefing, especially in the time of the pandemic. “They [the media] are not aware of the trauma they accumulate and the need to debrief or unload these, there are different kinds of persons, some can deal with the trauma easily, but there are some who will be affected.”

Pamugas said media practitioners need a validation / ventilation session, where they relay what has happened to them to be able to be with colleagues who share the same experience. The work of journalists rarely ends in the newsrooms and could take a toll on mental health, becoming a medical issue if left untreated and addressed. The medical toll the pandemic has caused could hound journalists from years to come, which begs for treatment and proper de briefing.

Amianan Balita Ngayon