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PRESS RELEASE – The media, both in the mainstream and alternative sources play a major role in how members of society are informed of events that may affect them directly or indirectly.
Mass media has arguably become the main source of news, entertainment, recreation, and product information.
In St. Lucia as in other jurisdiction media reports on crime and violence are encouraged by many newsrooms who normally operator on the mantra “If it bleeds it Leads.”
However crime and violence has an effect on the entire society particularly on the media workers and Journalist who report on these stories.
On Monday April 20th, based on a request by some media practitioners, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations through the Media and Communications unit and the Division of Human Services organised a media debriefing session for all media workers engaged in the reporting of such events.
12 media workers from 7 media establishments participated in a very interactive session which was facilitated by the Director of Human Services, Elizabeth Lewis and Clinical Psychologist with the Transit Home, Ginelle Nelson.
Lewis indicated that she was pleased with the turnout of the media to this important session where media professionals get to do some level of introspection after being exposed to traumatic situations ever so often during the course of their work.
“They are human beings first and like everybody else they are affected by the level of trauma and so it is important for them to be able to manage, to deal with the trauma so that they too can give the best in their jobs” Lewis stated.
The Human Services Director went on to say that she was not surprised by some of the candid statements made the media participants.
“When you hear some media person say that they too, cry behind the camera. I don’t think that some persons would figure media persons would cry when they are filming a story because as the public we don’t see them as being human. We just see them as persons who carry stories.” Lewis added.
High traumatic situations, Lewis noted, affects everybody. It affects the viewer, the person filming the situation from the child to the eldest person. It can evoke different emotions in various persons.
“For somebody who is already depressed and distressed, it can further distress them. It can cause them to feel a further level of despondency.”
Lewis remarked that though it is important for the media to get the story out there they must be mindful not to present it in a manner which causes further distress to their audience.
Jeremiah Joseph a videographer with Helen Television System stated that the session was an eye opener for him having documented traumatic situations for many years.
“I never thought we were having such an impact on people’s lives especially when we cover these stories and what damage we can be doing to people. It really helped me to understand, it has an impact on me I didn’t recognize that…Going on murder scenes is like a norm for me, it’s nothing, it’s like adrenaline for me to get on the scene but not knowing I could have a serious impact on people’s lives makes me feel now that when I go on the scene that I have to be more sensitive and understanding to families.”
News Reporter with Radio Caribbean International and Choice TV, Cherry Ann Gaillard-Williams pointed out that she really needed this session because the volume of crime stories she has written and reported on did have an impact on her.
“We’re not just reporting on the people who were directly affected but some of those incidences also affect us as well and some of us don’t even realize it.”
Many of the participants felt that the session was very rewarding and timely and were grateful to the Ministry of Health for providing this completely free professional intervention.