MENTAL HEALTH JOURNALISM: EMBRACING ACCURACY, SENSITIVITY AND COMPASSION THROUGHOUT THE REPORTING PROCESS

Open Access
Author:
Kuznitz, Alison
Area of Honors:
Journalism
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Russell Edgar Eshleman Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • James Ford Risley, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • mental health
  • mental illness
  • stigma
  • journalism
  • suicide
  • language
Abstract:
When it comes to mental health, journalists have a critical platform for shaping public opinion, reporting facts and destigmatizing disorders that affect one in every five Americans — and dismantling stereotypes of violence and unpredictability. Yet, all too often, a lack of rigorous training and freedom to explore public health crises in depth results in shoddy reporting that only leads to heightened misunderstanding. Fortunately, there are professional journalists who serve as exemplars on the mental health beat; these individuals, with the support of invaluable fellowships and simply personal empathy, have embraced their public-service mission. Through a rare blend of compassion and sensitivity — strewn throughout the interview stages, writing process in person-first language and meticulous fact-checking exercise — such journalists have forged a path to acceptance and change for those whose mental health stories are being told. This thesis tells their stories — of the print journalists from major news publications across the country — with hope that more reporters will adhere to their sympathetic, nuanced styles.