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Journalists’ Occupational Stress: A Comparative Study between Reporting Critical Events and Domestic News

  • Susana Monteiro (a1) (a2) and Alexandra Marques-Pinto (a1)

Nowadays, journalism is considered a stressful occupation, not only due to the stress perceived in journalists’ daily work but also due to the critical, potentially traumatic events they report. However, research on journalists’ occupational stress in both these professional settings is still scarce. This study aims to characterize and compare occupational stress variables perceived by journalists in their daily work and in critical scenarios. Taking the Holistic Model of Occupational Stress by Nelson and Simmons (2003) as a framework, 25 Portuguese journalists, all with experience in reporting critical events, were interviewed on their perceptions of some core variables of the model: occupational stressors, distress and eustress emotional reactions, and the consequences of these experiences on their well-being. Differences among these core variables, according to the number of deployments to a critical event, were statistically analysed in order to ascertain whether repeated exposure to trauma influenced journalists’ occupational stress perceptions. The data content analysis showed that occupational stressors and emotional reactions differed across settings, while the consequences associated with journalists’ experiences were perceived as being mainly negative in both occupational contexts. Significant differences were identified in some of these variables according to the number of deployments to a critical event (p < .05). These findings may contribute to a reflection on the role of media organizations in preparing and supporting journalists in their work performance, and on the promotion of occupational health within the scope of journalists’ daily work and critical events. The article closes with considerations for future studies.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Susana Monteiro. Faculty of Psychology. Lisbon University. Alameda da Universidade. 1649–013. Lisboa (Portugal). Phone: +351–966074162. E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
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