Perilous: Australian news photographers and trauma

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Using oral testimony with 60 present and former Australian newspaper photographers, this article examines their frequent exposure to high-risk situations and the physical and psychological costs. Photographers engage with both vulnerability and aberration, and at the same time negotiate with editors who demand and prize a proximity and emotional closeness to danger. With a particular focus on war, disaster, and everyday assignments, the article reveals a litany of hazardous experiences. It considers the photographers’ reflections, the physical effects, the significant prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related symptoms, and the support and failings of their news organisations. The article argues that the seismic changes in the photographers’ workplace and their profession have further compounded the psychological and physical stress. This work illuminates new understanding about the historical and contemporary experiences of news photographers and the impact of the fracturing newspaper industry in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1632
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Newspaper photographers
  • oral history
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma

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