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Production   /  Helen Barrow

Hurt: The high price of being a journalist in the digital world.

The high price for journalists in the digital world.


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Helen Barrow

  • PRODUCER Helen Barrow, Jenny Ainge, Julia Overton



Journalism and journalists are under attack. They go to war every day: they live and work on a 24-hour frontline that poses multiple risks to their mental health. War has come to them: “Fake news”. Social media abuse. Trolls. Governments and organisations that mislead, lie and sue. Digital overload. The lack of public trust. Diminishing press freedoms. Journalists were once seen as neutral observers, whether on the battlefield of war or politics. Not anymore. The film questions the day-to-day ethical challenges faced by reporters as they grapple with the legacy of trauma and recover from its life-changing impact whilst doing the job they love. If we lose journalists then democracy itself is under threat.

Support this project

16.50% funded
  • $100,000.00

  • $16,500.00

  • December 2019

  • 2

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





OFFLINE DONATION Anonymous $7,500.00
Offline Donation Kim Williams $9,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Trauma and PTSD are the outcomes for one in forty journalists and it’s getting worse. Journalism and journalists are under attack. They go to war every day: they live and work on a 24-hour frontline that poses multiple risks to their mental health. War has come to them. What can they do to prepare themselves psychologically? Through the personal story of recovery -Dean Yates, Reuter’s first-ever Journalist in charge of Mental Health and Wellbeing- shows how trauma collectively damages you when you are just trying to do your job. Journalists are mentally at risk when reporting for the relentless 24/7 news cycle, whether in the world’s trouble spots or monitoring a live video feed of a gunman slaying innocent people going about their ordinary life.
By identifying the damage of trauma and the crippled nature of the current media scene the audience questions the future of journalism and the threat to democracy if journalists can no longer do their job properly.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Reporter, Dean Yates, and colleagues challenge us to acknowledge the struggle they face in being part of a "sunset industry" in the digital age. From this point, the story takes a wider focus and asks how can individuals, news organisations and even countries - such as Syria - ever recover if trauma is the bedrock of your experience?


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short term: The film will be available to a worldwide group of journalists, through their professional associations and social media platforms. This allows the messages on self-care and preparedness to face work trauma; to travel widely.

In the medium term: Wider applications to the other occupational groups known to suffer from PTSD and Trauma illness. These include the first responders in Police, Ambulance, and Fire Service. This is in addition to soldiers - who are the most widely known group suffering from Trauma-related illnesses but also the most cared for.
Long term: We are working in tandem with Dean Yates and the Black Dog Institute at UNSW. They have a major research interest in refugees and displaced people suffering from Trauma. These are some of the most oppressed and psychologically damaged people suffering from trauma-related illnesses. The Black Dog and other refugee support groups will have access to the film and the rights to use it in training and treatment plans.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Partnerships include - Dean Yates of Reuters International ( the largest multimedia organisation in the world), Anne Barnard of The New York Times and Patrick Baz of Agence France Presse. These three are key characters in the film. These relationships have been carefully nurtured during the development and early shooting phase of the film. We are also working with The Black Dog Institute in Australia and The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma (with offices in the US, UK and Australia). We are exploring other avenues such as the 2019 Mad World Summit in London for workplace mental health and well being. Dean Yates is one of their featured speakers and we are filming there.We have formed a strategic alliance with Clothilde Redfern of the Rory Peck Trust who have pledged help in marketing and distribution of the film among freelance journalists and their families. Dr. Melanie Bunce is also assisting us with the development and cross-promotion of her book, The Broken Estate.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

For those who suffer PTSD we would hope they realise they are not alone. For the families of those who suffer PTSD the same. For medical professionals, we would hope the film, or small and carefully targeted sections of the film, will assist their work and their patients. We expect the film will prompt decision-makers and policymakers to ensure there is funding for help and support of those who suffer from PTSD and to allow for treatment without fear of loss of employment. To see viewers acknowledge the real and present danger that exists in the work of journalists and the importance of informed and non-judgemental reporting of stories to our society in general. This message is particularly important in the current environment of ‘fake’ news, the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure this puts on journalists.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

1. Traffic to Dean’s website and open and closed facebook pages.
2. Encourage news organisations to appoint their own Mental health advocate in the Workplace
3. Dean Yates and our team’s link with the UNSW Black Dog Institute’s trauma and PTSD research team will ensure focus group testing. These results are likely to be published and will be conducted using evidence-based research methodology.