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Help or harm? Symbolic violence, secondary trauma and the impact of press coverage on a community.


Help or harm? Symbolic violence, secondary trauma and the impact of press coverage on a community.

Kay, Linda, Reilly, Rosemary C. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7274-4488, Connolly, Kate and Cohen, Stephen (2010) Help or harm? Symbolic violence, secondary trauma and the impact of press coverage on a community. Journalism Practice, 4 (4). pp. 421-438. ISSN 1751-2786

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Help_or_Harm_final.pdf - Accepted Version

Official URL: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rjop


This paper describes the impact of extensive journalistic coverage on a small community in Quebec that experienced the murder of a teenage girl by a local man. Press coverage of the case was intense, as journalists converged on the small rural town to cover the story and the subsequent arrest of the suspect and his parents. In presenting the voices of both local residents and a journalist, this paper illuminates the secondary trauma and symbolic violence that can result from some forms of news coverage of a traumatic event. Five key themes regarding the impact of the media on community residents arose from the data: alienation from the community, anger at the media’s public construction of the community, intrusion on community life, intrusion on the private processes of grief, and triggering renewed feelings of loss and grief. Implications for journalists are discussed, including being aware of the dynamics of symbolic violence and secondary trauma and incorporating positionality, empathy, and reflective practice into their reporting praxis.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Applied Human Sciences
Item Type:Article
Authors:Kay, Linda and Reilly, Rosemary C. and Connolly, Kate and Cohen, Stephen
Journal or Publication:Journalism Practice
Date:January 2010
  • This research was supported through a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Ottawa, Canada.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1080/17512780903429829
Keywords:communities, media coverage, reflective practice, secondary trauma, symbolic violence, trauma
ID Code:6920
Deposited By: Rosemary Reilly
Deposited On:12 Nov 2010 20:49
Last Modified:07 Dec 2020 20:37
Additional Information:Parts of this paper were presented at the 1st Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, London, Ontario, February 10, 2008.


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