Psych Attack

This episode focuses on Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald’s research in trauma exposure and mental health in TV news workers. We discuss how camera operators and reporters have different kinds of trauma experiences, the importance of social support, substance use, and symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout.

Show Notes

This episode focuses on Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald’s research in trauma exposure and mental health in TV news workers. We discuss how camera operators and reporters have different kinds of trauma experiences, the importance of social support, substance use, and symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout.
 
Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald is Senior Research Officer, Australian Institute of Family Studies and Adjunct Lecturer, School of Psychology, Charles Sturt University. If you want to keep up to date with Jasmine, you can visit her website, or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Recorded: November 2021.
 
Research papers discussed in this episode
Williams-Wynn, N. & MacDonald, J. B. (In press). Trauma exposure and substance use in journalists: A narrative review. Australian Community Psychologist.

MacDonald, J. B., Dale, E., Metcalf, D., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. J. (2021). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in journalist samples: A systematic literature review. Traumatology. DOI: 10.1037/trm0000337

MacDonald, J. B., Backholm, K., Saliba, A. J., & Hodgins, G. (2021). Predictors of trauma reactions in TV news camera operators. Traumatology. DOI: 10.1037/trm0000332
 
MacDonald, J. B., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. J., Metcalf, D. (2021). Journalists and depressive symptoms: A systematic literature review. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. DOI: 10.1177/15248380211016022
 
MacDonald, J. B., Fox, R., & Saliba, A. J. (2020). Contextualizing psychological outcomes for TV news journalists: Role differences in industry culture, organizational hierarchy and trauma exposure. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/10720
 
MacDonald, J. B., & Fox, R. (2018). Trauma Amongst TV News Crews: The protective function of crew solidarity. In M.-T. Leung, & L.-M. Tan (Eds.), Applied Psychology Readings (pp. 21–38). Singapore: Springer.
 
MacDonald, J. B., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. J. (2017). Trauma exposure in journalists: A systematic literature review. Fusion Journal – Dangerous Journalism, Issue 11. Available online: http://www.fusion-journal.com/issue/011-dangerous-journalism/trauma-e
 
MacDonald, J. B., Saliba, A. J., Hodgins, G., & Ovington, L. A. (2016). Burnout in journalists: A systematic literature review. Burnout Research3(2), 34–44.
 
MacDonald, J. B., Saliba A. J., & Hodgins, G. (2016). Journalists and substance use: A systematic literature review. Substance Abuse37(3), 402–411. DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2015.1101732
                                                                                              
Sensitive content warning
This episode refers to a number of potentially traumatic events news workers might be exposed to like harm to children, death, sexual violence, and war/conflict. However, these topics are not the main focus of the episode and lived experiences are not discussed. Please take care while listening and if you are feeling discomfort and think you would benefit from some support, please reach out to your GP or contact a service like Lifeline.
 
Cite this episode
MacDonald, J. B. & Tillman, G. (Hosts). (2022, October 31). Mental health and TV news workers (No. 12) [Audio podcast episode]. In Psych Attack. www.psychattack.com

Audio edit
The audio edit for this episode was completed by Amy Edwards. Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald did a final edit for content.
 
Transcript
The transcript for this episode is under development; currently only complete up to 34 minutes.

What is Psych Attack?

Psych Attack focuses on the diversity of the domain of psychology. Join us for a relaxed conversation with experts discussing the topics they are passionate about in psychological research and/or practice. The aim is to better understand the spectrum of human experience, the methods used in psychology, and the people attracted to working within it. The conversations will be of interest and accessible to novice and experienced psychology listeners alike.

Hosted by Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (jasminebmacdonald.com.au).

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (00:08):
Hello and welcome to this episode of Psych Attack. I'm Dr. Jasmine B. MacDonald, and today I talk about my own research in trauma and TV news workers with guest host Dr. Gabriel Tillman. I hope you're going well and have settled in with a warm cup of tea.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (00:27):
Hey Gabe, how's everything going?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (00:29):
Hey Jaz. It's good to see you again.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (00:31):
Yeah, so you, you were on Psych Attack in June 2020, uh, when we had a chat about your work in mathematical psychology. Um, so welcome back to the show, but this time as a guest co-host.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (00:43):
Exactly. Trying out my first time as a host of a podcast and the first time I was on psych attack was my first time on a podcast as a guest. So a lot of firsts.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (00:53):
Nice. Today we're trying something new. Uh, this episode is all about my own area of expertise, which is the psychological implications of journalistic work. And Gabe's going to be asking the questions this time.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (01:06):
Yeah. So I'll try it from this end. I guess the interesting thing about us is that we worked together for a while and I guess we taught together and we did things like that, that are all part of the academic world. But it wasn't until you started this podcast that you were like, well, wait, wait a minute. What do you do for research? And what's all this other stuff that happens in your life? I could say the same about you. We did a lot of teaching and stuff like that together, but I didn't know a whole lot about the research you were doing. And so, you know, I'm here to put it back on you and find out more about what you have been doing before we get into your expertise and interests. Maybe we should start almost like what happened before we met each other really. Cause we met each other at that teaching junction. You know, what is your training and, you know, how did you get into what you're doing now, which is psychology, I guess we could kind of call it in that field. Yeah,

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (01:55):
Yeah, yeah. Totally. I think I, I tend to identify as a social scientist with sometimes incorporating, you know, behavioral scientists kind of thing because I actually did my undergrad in social work psychology and sociology. So I did this double [degree], um, in social work and psych mostly cuz I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do afterwards, but I thought it would be something clinical or therapeutic. And so I kind of giggled when you were saying that in, in the episode when we talked about your stuff, starting thinking you were gonna do therapeutic stuff and then, you know, um, it didn't end up being the thing that was most exciting for you. I found that the kind of thing that was most exciting was reading research and theory and the research subjects that I did in sociology. We had that in undergrad in a different way to what, what psychology had.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (02:45):
Mm-hmm. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (02:45):
And I was like, Hey, actually I, I, I used to sit in class and think, I'm pretty sure I could do this job. I'm pretty sure I could show up every day, talk to intellectual people, smart people about stuff That's super interesting, like psychology. But yeah, I actually, uh, thought I would be a journalist or an actress.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (03:03):
Mm-hmm. ,

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (03:03):
I went through school doing mostly like music, drama, um, creative arts kinds of things. And I guess that is, you know, you see that creativity coming out in putting the podcast together. Uh, but my mom had a friend who'd studied psychology and she was like doing a clear out of her books and stuff and dropped over this introductory psychology textbook and I found the chapter on sensation and perception and I was just like, this is the coolest thing. This is the most interesting thing, like abnormal psychology and mental health, which is a lot of the research that I do. It's fascinating, but it's kind of those things about psychology that are more like those shared experiences or where we have a "healthy" brain that does weird stuff like happens in sensation and perception. I just thought that was really fascinating.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (03:53):
Yeah. And it's sort of like once you start learning those facts, you realize that they're about you, that and the people that you know, and those are the things that it applies to, you know? Um,

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (04:04):
Yeah, exactly. And thinking about, you know, the kinds of films or music that I enjoyed and the way that those mediums made use of, you know, different perceptual tricks or, um, strategies and, and that was really cool. Like, I think the first thing, kind of a sad origin story, but the thing that excited me most was, I think it's the phi phenomena. It could be phi [pronounces differently]. It's p h i, and it's those lights, you know, like at, at a a US style cinema where the, the lights light up consecutively in an order and it, it makes it look like it's moving, but they're just lighting up one by one.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (04:39):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (04:39):
And that was the moment I was like, "Yes, psychology".

Dr Gabriel Tillman (04:42):
Psychology for you. There is a, a junction there though. So you've, you've gone from psychology to at some point teaching and doing academia and doing research. What, what sort of happened to get you into that research realm and academic, I guess?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (04:56):
Yeah. Well in my social work training we had to do placements. At the time you had to do, uh, one research placement and one, you know, practical client facing placement. I kind of just really loved the research part a lot and I got really frustrated about certain things when I was, you know, doing practical experience in mental health around the changes that I couldn't make necessarily if I just went in at the ground level with a qualification, you know?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (05:25):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (05:25):
So, um, I like problematizing things and thinking abstractly and zooming in and out. I guess I also am a little bit of a planner and a, and like control. So the idea of running my own projects was really exciting for me as well.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (05:39):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (05:39):
Just kind of ran with that, went through honors. I did it in social work, not psychology only because it was integrated and that meant in my last year of study, cuz that that undergrad three majors took five years.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (05:50):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (05:51):
With placements. Yeah. I did my honors in social work and had it integrated and then yeah, went straight into a PhD and I kind of did like little bits and pieces as well in like volunteering for Headspace. I did a research, it was like a mental health research role with a place called Riverina Bluebell.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (06:08):
Mm-hmm .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (06:09):
Um, and they were all about setting up an online, uh, like a website that would have all the resources and links to support for people in regional New South Wales, so around the Wagga area. And it was mostly targeted for like farmers and like people living in rural and remote areas so that if they came into Wagga or surrounding areas, they would know what resources to access. So yeah, that kind of got me interested in, you know, how do you integrate an interest in research and mental health theory, but also make sure that it's something that's really applied so that you've got the specific group of people in mind that you're always kind of coming back to. So yeah, I started at Charles Sturt Uni, my academic career there as the beauty of being at a regional university is you do your PhD there and you get to teach almost everything . Cause it's like...

Dr Gabriel Tillman (06:57):
You're it.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (06:59):
These, there's all these openings and you know, loved loved the team there but had always grown up in a regional area. Um, so wanted to branch out.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (07:08):
Mm-hmm. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (07:08):
Um, and yeah, I went to Sydney where we worked together at Australian College of Applied Psychology and then from there to Melbourne where I am now.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (07:17):
Yeah, wow.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (07:17):
Um, and so yeah, until now all academic jobs teaching and doing research, uh, and supervising students. But now I'm moving into a government role, with the Australian Institute of Family Studies and doing a, a research focused position with them.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (07:31):
It's an amazing way to think about it. Just kind of staring down the barrel of actress, social worker, researcher. And then after all these things considered you've, you're in the researcher pool, who would've thought.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (07:44):
? And like, the honest thought that I had when I was applying for these different courses was do I go to uni and study, like acting for stage and screen And because actually CSU has had a really, really good program and I was like, I'll probably be more likely to get a job and be able to feed myself if I do psychology or social work. So I was like, I was like, you can, you could surely dabble in acting but you can't kind of dabble in psychology.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (08:12):
You're like, I'm taking the safe bet . So that's a very interesting story. So like a lot of that I didn't know, this is like the beauty of kind of doing this is how much you find out about each other. So we've kind of painted the picture now that you're, you're in research where you do a lot of your research in sort of this area that involves trauma and news teams in particular camera operators and that sort of thing. And so we kind of need to set the scene here a little bit. What is this research area? Cause I've never really read about it before until reading up on what you've done on it.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (08:43):
Yeah, so the area I'm most excited about is journalists, but through, you know, broader research and supervision and collaborations and stuff, it's kind of turned into this occupational stress and trauma in groups that I like to refer to as socially invisible.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (08:59):
Mm-hmm. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (09:00):
So not if you said, you know, what's a role where people are exposed to trauma, People think police, they think of other emergency responders. That research is is super important and those roles are so important. But yeah, I just got really excited about this idea of, you know, camera operators in particular filming news and you never actually visually see them and if they're doing their job well you won't even think about them being there. Well one of the camera operators said to me, I was interviewing him around trauma stuff and I said, you know, you know, we don't even think about this. And he was like "Jasmine, that's cuz I'm doing my job right." You know, .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (09:36):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (09:36):
"I don't want you to think about the person behind the camera." I guess it's all about trauma exposure, the kinds of things people might come across in terms of what we refer to as potentially traumatic events. So in general conversation in the general population, people refer to trauma and, and burnout as well, which is another area I'm interested in. Just like the, they're just everyday words, but they, it's quite, you know, specific what a traumatic experience is or, or what burnout is. Um, so we talk about potentially traumatic events. Not all people who are exposed to a single event are gonna find that impactful or distressing for them. There's a range of pre-, peri-, and post-trauma exposure factors that make an individual more or less likely to have a negative reaction or become psychologically distressed after being exposed to an event.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (10:24):
So this area I got interested in just by chance. My husband as well is a software designer. So he used to work in this space where a bunch of creatives would come and go. And one of the people that I met through that did freelance work for local TV networks.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (10:40):
Mm-hmm. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (10:41):
And I'd ran into him one day and I... this is like the token Jasmine smile like, "Hey, how you going?" That's like , you know, um, me being all bubbly. And he, he wasn't okay. And he said to me, you know, "I actually just...", as in he wasn't himself, you know, he wasn't like really distressed but I could tell he wasn't quite right.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (10:59):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (11:00):
And he said, uh, there was a car accident at one of the local schools where this kid who would've been about 15 or 16 was on a skateboard and his friends were pulling him along, like holding a rope, skateboard surfing behind this car. And he fell under the car and was killed. And so this guy that I know got a phone call from one of the local networks and got asked to head to the school, take his camera and shoot what was happening. But there wasn't a brief, there wasn't a, "Hey this has happened, prepare for um, distressed kids prepare for distressed, or young people, prepare for distressed teachers, family." He just kind of gets there and has to work it out. And then he's got kids as well, you know?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (11:40):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (11:40):
So like that, it's not like he's gone away to film something, this is in his community. I was just kind of really spun out by this. I was thinking to myself, how do we know what we know about trauma and stress and not kind of have someone prepared before they go into that situation? And I was saying to him, "Did you at least get a bit of a debrief when you got back to the office?" And he just, I'll never forget the laugh, it was like, oh how naive. Like he, he didn't say that and he's a very kind person. It was just the realities of that industry that he found himself in a commercial news network. And then he proceeded to tell me all these stories of potentially traumatic events that he'd seen just in Wagga, and events that never made it to the news. But he still had to go film it and a decision is made later. Is this something that a grandma could sit at home eating her dinner and and watch at the same time? You know, is it too gory? But camera operators go out and film this stuff and we don't put a lot of thought into that. And so I kind of got really excited about like, everything I knew from psychology and social work and the helping professions in a medical context of burnout and self-care and impacts of trauma exposure. And this is a group I never thought of, even though I consume news cuz we all consume news, you know, all the time. Even when you're trying really hard not to. It's, it's always around.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (13:01):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (13:01):
That got me started on, on this area and thinking about "Cool. So what might be the difference between camera operators and other kinds of journalists?" Cuz at the time, uh, a lots of people looking at foreign correspondents and what it was like for them covering conflict and when it was domestic news, it was a lot of all these different roles bunched together called 'journalist'.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (13:21):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (13:22):
Or focused on reporter. And that makes sense, right? Cuz that's who you see on the tv. Um, they kind of got a lot of the attention.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (13:28):
Yeah. And a, a lot of the time I guess that you've kind of paired that with the person saying, or the camera people that you're saying they're just, they're design, it's almost like their job's designed to make them invisible. And so why would anyone try and take, pay attention to them if the good camera people are the ones that are invisible. When you talk about these kind of, this context, so let's say we stick within the newsroom situation and you say that there's like a whole crew that could be exposed to these traumas. Like who are we talking about? Like is it just the reporter or who is the other, other team members?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (14:01):
I kind of am influenced by that social psych thinking about relationships and groups of people. And so there weren't many papers before my work and I'm not sure since, um, that would talk about the crew, it would be journalists. But I think it's important to emphasize there's a lot of different roles that come together to put together a journalistic product. But we'll focus in on TV news, which could be, you know, the bulletin at the end of the day or the start of the day. But it could also be programs, you know, current affair programs.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (14:30):
Mm-hmm. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (14:31):
So one of the veteran reporters and then producers that I spoke to talked about the Rolls Royce version of a news crew. And that would be your camera operator, a separate sound recordist, your reporter and a producer. If you had those four go out on a story, which the current affair programs typically do, that's, that's a really solid crew. Um, more likely we're gonna see the camera operator doing the sound themselves. One of the things that I came across and wasn't aware of before this research is if you are thinking about a neoliberalist approach to business and having a news organization, the only person you need to send out is the camera operator.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (15:10):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (15:11):
Because the reporter could contact people later and do a piece-to-camera. They could do a voiceover from the office. You really need those images. It's not internet or TV based news if you don't have images. And lots of people would say in the industry, "if you don't have pictures, it didn't happen" while there's all these different roles. Oh, we also have things like editors, copy editors with newspapers. Yeah. So, and various managerial roles as well. Cause we have to remember like this content is filtered through in different ways. So for instance, you could have two people trained in camera work and one might actually go out into the field and record all day and they'll come back and bring the tapes, um, to the office and they won't edit their own work. They might have, um, someone in the edit suite who puts a tape in, doesn't know what they're gonna see. And then it could be some, you know, horrible car accident that's quite gory and they have to edit out the parts that wouldn't go to news along the process of putting a piece, uh, a journalistic product together. There's lots of different people in that, in that, um, kind of flow. But we will see more and more, you know, you, you'll see it when you put on news. Um, especially if it's a remote coverage like we've seen with Cleo Smith in the last couple of weeks where we don't have the Rolls Royce. We have often the one reporter who does both.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (16:27):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (16:28):
They might report and set a camera up and do whatever takes they need to do . Um, but yeah, people are more and more being pushed to kind of not specialize, but be able to do everything themselves, which has its own risks.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (16:41):
Yeah. And so we've got this sort of set out now, I guess, of a team. You know, you talked about the Rolls Royce of the team, but it, it definitely consists of different roles. There is roles within a news crew that potentially have different exposures to these traumatic events. Is that what we're kind of getting at is that there's different exposure frequencies or probabilities, I don't know how you would want to frame it.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (17:04):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I think because of that interest in perceptual psychology from before I even started studying, I was thinking about the fact that camera operators are majoritively viewing through a lens.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (17:18):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (17:18):
And to get that content, you have to focus for longer, get closer and engage in a visual way that's different to a reporter. And now on the flip side, reporters for example, do a lot of interviewing and that the process for them may be less visual, but it's more kind of verbal and the communication skills are quite different. And so, you know, if you think about potentially anxiety symptoms or depressive symptoms, there's these different aspects of processing and sensory input in this job across those roles that might mean they have differences in their experiences. So yeah, when I was reading the literature, I did a series of five systematic lit reviews that took five years to get published. Just like, and to work through all this literature and all the different kinds of psychological distress journos can have. Yeah. It was just kind of grouping them all together. And I'm not a journalist so I spent some time doing ethnographic observation, which basically means I was like the unpaid unskilled like prac person who just followed them around and just observed. And I found these really like a lot of things that I expected around, you know, who needs to get close while the reporter might be talking to this person, the camera operator's getting up close to what the horrific content might be. So there's that, that kind of level of exposure difference. But there was also some really interesting organizational stuff and like pecking order stuff and um, these differences in the relationship of the, the dynamic I guess of what the camera operator is expected to do compared to the reporter that impacts their relationship. And so we know social support in terms of mental health is the most important thing. So a healthy outcome surely is gonna mean a team that's really cohesive and works together. But there's actually a lot about commercial news at least that sets up a pecking order, separates them and therefore can, can mean that they don't, um, kind of support each other and maybe not as resilient in the face of a traumatic experience.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (19:20):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (19:20):
Or they're sent out by themselves three o'clock in the morning to drive three or four hours to cover a car accident or something and then drive home all by themselves like ruminating on what they've just seen.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (19:32):
Yeah. And, and so maybe just to unpack that a little, there's this idea that we have camera operators that are exposed to these traumatic events disproportionately to say a producer or something like that. And then what's also seems to be apparent is that if someone's exposed to the trauma, like a camera operator, they also have disproportionate access to support. So not only are they seeing the trauma more often, they probably have less support from the news crew team, the people that are, you know, sitting in offices and the people that are in those other higher up positions.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (20:07):
This is coming from interviews with Australian reporters and camera operators. Um, this, these findings. But essentially the work that I've done kind of demonstrates, or what I was told by these participants is, uh, and, and actually observed. I'm trying to be really tentative, but yeah what you're saying is accurate there's separation, right. So it is physical. Camera operators typically aren't in, in the newsroom. So I remember going and observing this crew and just feeling so thankful that this organization had me there and "they're like, great, this can be your desk." And I'm looking around, I'm like, where the camera people, you know, where's the, the tech crew?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (20:47):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (20:48):
Um, cuz you gotta remember as well, like they're physically different when they're out in the field, they're more likely to drive the van and they're also carrying gear. So if you think about a hostile or dangerous situation, they stand out because of that as well. Um, there tends to be a little bit of a demographic difference and a dress code difference between reporters in the office and camera operators in the office.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (21:09):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (21:10):
I'm looking around and I don't see any camera operators and worked out. Okay. The newsroom typically is, you know, you have access to your chief of staff, the manager of the news room, and then you have usually the reporters there and the chief of staff most typically will be a reporter.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (21:27):
Yep.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (21:27):
Um, but they, they could have a camera background, but it's more likely they'll have a reporting background and then you've got your camera crew often in the edit suite. In some metropolitan contexts, it's like the it crowd where they're literally in the basement.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (21:41):
. Yeah. I see.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (21:43):
So you have this physical separation, which couples with different kinds of training and the idea of, you know, um, the reporter is the talent. They're the one that most likely went to university, cuz camera work in TV traditionally was a, a trade. There's now lots of uni degrees where you're going become a videographer and do camera work. But there's this kind of difference of, uh, journalists or reporters being people who are like trying to make a difference, um, working on their communications style, use to arguing a point. So if they've got an issue in a newsroom, the chief of staff is gonna know about it. So whether that's mental health related or not, and then you've got this group of people who are like more inclined to be behind the camera, are physically separated and their manager isn't likely to have the background that they have. So, you know, from a social psych perspective and an organizational perspective, we just know that people are attracted to and relate to similar. So if you've got a manager with a similar background, you are likely to hear your, or see your concerns heard out in a different way.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (22:50):
Mm-hmm. and not relating as closely to the chief of staff could be an issue because that person probably has more power. Like, well they have a bit of power in the, in the, the business. Like, you know, they have, they talk to the people that are above them. They have, they have resources sort of at their fingertips as being chief of staff. So not being able to be linked to that person for a lot of the reasons you lined out is problematic.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (23:18):
Oh, definitely. Yeah. And we know what do you do when you wanna remember something or to pay attention to it, You put it in your line of sight, , you know.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (23:25):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (23:26):
It's almost like a toddler with objects permanence like .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (23:29):
Exactly.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (23:30):
This group of people, you know, are kind of behind the scenes even in the organization. And there were reporters and camera operators that were telling me this hierarchy and this divide can very much be reinforced by management and by chief of staff. And the times where they have on both roles have had a better experience is when they've worked under someone who gets the importance of the unique skills each role has and how it's important to work together and kind of have a, a cohesive group.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (23:59):
Mm. And so what, what do you think would be this disillusion of roles and, you know, say if you're a cameraman who's previously or camera woman that's previously in the basement so to speak, but now you're being asked to be the journalist and the camera person, is this sort of something that's going to start affecting these trends that you're noticing the fact that roles are combining and roles are having, you're having more than one hat, essentially. So maybe you do get to sit in the same room as the chief of staff?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (24:29):
Yeah, I mean this is interesting. I think if that's happening within a network Yeah. Likely that would mean people are gonna gravitate towards, you know, a small, a smaller news team and a smaller space altogether. I think where we tend to see this happen more though is in those like outreach or satellite spaces. So you might have someone who isn't based metro or based where the major office is and they just do, they cover a certain geographic location and so it's just them. And they'll have their, their camera and audio set up and they'll, you know, write their own pieces and send it in and they're probably freelance.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (25:09):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (25:09):
And so they're expected to do more with less stability in their job and also, uh, you know, not the support of full-time ongoing work...

Dr Gabriel Tillman (25:18):
Mm-hmm. ,

New Speaker (25:18):
so all of that, if we think of stress diathesis, regardless of the fact that we have this group that's exposed to some really, like, honestly some really cool stuff. They, they have an awesome job. They get behind the scenes access to some really cool things...

Dr Gabriel Tillman (25:32):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (25:33):
But they also get exposed to a lot of unexpected distressing content. And then on top of that, burnout is a real thing. Stress and competition.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (25:43):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (25:43):
Um, because, you know, I, I talked to a lot of people who said, "Well, how could I possibly turn down doing this story or having to do more work when I know they could replace me so quickly?" It's, you know, a really competitive industry.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (25:56):
Mm. And what about sort of the loneliness aspect? You know, let's say you had a reporter and a camera person see a traumatic event, these sort of, that maybe that drive home where you could debrief with the, at least with the reporter, whereas the scenario that you're kind of painting here is potentially someone going out by themselves seeing a traumatic event and then having nothing but their own thoughts to kind of marinate in for days or who knows how long. And so what do you think the implications of that are?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (26:26):
It's a really important point, Gabe. This whole idea of working individually like this one person crew is just problematic in a range of ways. Like, it doesn't lead to a better journalistic product because collaboration, share of skills. Someone's specializing in camera work while someone's specializing in, how do I tell this story? What questions do I ask? And, and even people saying stuff like, "I would also like pretend not to be filming while the person was being, you know, a little bit difficult or while we were talking to them". Like they'd have these strategies amongst each other to make even someone who's difficult to interview to work around that.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (27:03):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (27:03):
So the product's gonna be better, but that isolation aspect is really important in this area. It's important because any person who's working in an occupational context where they see the extremes of society, not all of us go and see murders, sexual assaults, you know, the outcomes of, or, or being in the midst of terrorist attacks or war and conflict, car accidents. Like we can't underestimate how impactful car accidents are on journalists that consistently came up.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (27:35):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (27:35):
If you're seeing this by yourself, you have all this adrenaline to get there and then you have all this time, you know, slowly to get back and ruminating on it and editing footage, they would talk to me about the importance of that ride back to the station in the van. And it wouldn't be, you know, like an emotional debrief. It would the ability to just go, Hey, that was a bit hard, that that was really rough.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (27:59):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (27:59):
Or whoa, that was ex, that escalated quickly, you know, to have your feelings and your experience validated and acknowledged as real by somebody else.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (28:09):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (28:09):
Is actually the most important, one of the most important factors in terms of a stress reaction after a traumatic experience. The interesting thing is that you could be a camera operator or a reporter who covers something by yourself and have a great social network of friends and things, but you are not gonna show up to a barbecue and say, "covered this really gruesome thing yesterday. I'm really bothered by this."

Dr Gabriel Tillman (28:32):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (28:33):
The people I interviewed were saying things to me like "I'm, I don't get invited to stuff anymore. The things I'm, I'm covering and wanna talk about, my friends don't wanna talk about it a picnic or a barbecue." So that isolation is, is real, you know, often having firsthand experiences, not just covering things secondhand so they're involved in the story somehow.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (28:53):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (28:53):
Uh, which makes it even harder. So to have to, to physically have that safety and that backup of having other people around you, um, is really important.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (29:01):
The thing that is, I found really interesting about your work though, is not only were you painting this picture where there's, you know, not that much support and they're exposed to these traumatic events, but that if you start to just compare them, you know, camera operators to the population or the general population, the actual prevalence of exposure to events in the workplace and even personal events is higher.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (29:24):
I am a pragmatist through and through and one of the things that I find most frustrating when I read a paper, especially when it's mental health related, and they're gonna report something like depressive symptoms, PTSD symptoms, you know, whatever it is, burnout.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (29:38):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (29:38):
If it's reported out of context, I just get so frustrated. .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (29:43):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (29:43):
So you can see that in my work and I, and when I'm working with other people, especially supervising, um, students, is cool. That's great. You have this cross-sectional data, you know, which means you've collected data from a group of people at a set point in time and we can see what's related, but we don't know what causes it. What we can do is say, Hey, what does it look like for fireys [fire fighters]? What does it look like for police? What about, um, so occupational groups that we might think are at elevated risk? And then we've got clinical groups, like in trauma, we would instantly go to veterans and we would instantly go to people who are survivors of sexual assault. Where do they fit? So maybe, you know, what we tend to see with journalists is elevated compared to the general population, the level of trauma exposure and their trauma reactions.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (30:29):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (30:30):
And reactions isn't just ptsd, it's depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, stress in general, burnout, and a really big one to consider is substance use.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (30:40):
Mm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (30:41):
Which historically has had an interesting context with journalists as well. .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (30:46):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (30:46):
And other occupational groups, . So yeah. When you compare domestic journalists to maybe journalists working in Mexico who have had their families, like there's a lot of corruption and they have had their families threatened those, those groups have elevated levels of distress compared to say domestic journalists in western industrialized countries. And then we can yeah, try to fit in and think in context, okay, these symptoms are elevated, the exposure is elevated, but in a practical sense, what does that mean? Because if you don't have that data and you can't put it in context, it's really hard to go to government or organizations and say, actually look where this group is. It's, it's problematic. And so I kind of started out by trying to demonstrate that camera operators in and of themselves are really important to look at. So even if I find that they're at the same level or higher, if at the same level as other groups, they warrant support, they warrant funding, they warrant, you know, being heard or considered in, in policy.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (31:44):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (31:45):
Um, so that contextualization is so important. And I guess that's why I don't just measure symptoms, but I do the qual [qualitative] work as well.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (31:53):
And it's sort of important in the sense that, you know, let's say we've made the statement that camera operators are exposed to traumatic events more often. They might be the kinds of people that don't mind that, you know, they got into the work saying, I want to be ex, well, not that they want to be exposed to that, but they have sort of the stomach to be able to be going to car crashes and going to these traumatic events. And so the fact that you've gotten this behavioral data or survey data that kind of says, well, not only are they exposed to these events, but there's actually measurements of their wellbeing that are elevated.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (32:28):
Yeah, totally. So yeah, there's two points to that. And the first is, you know, looking at whether certain roles have elevated trauma and through the observation and, and interviews and all of this reading I was doing, I was so sure that camera operators were gonna have like massively higher rates of trauma exposure, but it actually remained pretty consistent across different news crew members. Um, reporters and camera operators might report quantitatively about the same levels of trauma, um, exposure. And even symptom-wise, there's not statistically significant difference, at least in my own work, between PTSD levels, depression, anxiety, or stress. The difference is how they're exposed. And as you said, that's where that aspect of, well who are they as people and maybe the kinds of differences we might have between someone who's attracted to camera work compared to being a reporter that might make that difference. And then organizational factors become important. And did they cover it by themselves or did they have social support?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (33:31):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (33:31):
So totally talked to a heap of camera operators who were male in their early or later twenties or even early thirties who loved their work and were excited by it. The idea of going and chasing a bushfire to cover that, the idea of, you know, like being the first on a scene, all these things were really exciting to them when people experience guilt cognitions or some kind of moral disalignment with what they believe and how they act that can cause distress.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (34:05):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (34:06):
Um, but actually the thing that, you know, so they would feel conflicted, you know, this is actually a really sad outcome because this bushfire has just, you know, devastated this area. And I found that really exciting. Like, what, what's wrong with me? That kind of thing.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (34:20):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (34:21):
A lot of dark humor would be used to cope within crews and then they would feel guilty about that. Especially if someone who shouldn't have overheard like a survivor overheard then that was really devastating. Uh, cuz the intent isn't to hurt anybody, it's to cope with a situation and bond with someone else. Yeah. The thing that I also consistently saw was from about early thirties to mid thirties onwards when people are having their own families, that's when it got harder. That sense of as we age and we have other people, we are responsible for a sense of mortality becomes more important. And seeing stories with kids getting hurt became super distressing. So there's this like developmental aspect as well that's important probably for any kind of trauma exposure where when they could identify with a story. So it might be, you know, a camera operator who's a dad and they see an, an awful story about, you know, like referred to before CLE Smith. That kind of thing would be really distressing. Or it could be a female reporter sitting in court and hearing stories around, you know, a woman who was sexually assaulted or stalked or whatever. Once we start to see ourselves in these stories, that's where it can become more personally impactful as well.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (35:35):
Yeah. And, and so you kind of become more empathic, well let's say that you're more empathic in the older camera crew or the older camera operators I should say. I wonder what that kind of means for the trauma exposure. So they would have higher scores in wellbeing metrics like DASS or some of the stuff that you've looked at in the past

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (35:54):
That kind of comparison in terms of like the generation or the life stage of the camera operator or reporter and how they, how they're impacted hasn't really been quantified. And so I've looked at it qualitatively and you know, some of the old school camera operators would say things like, the reason we need to keep people working in a newsroom is because the role of the older reporter, or the role of the older and more experienced camera operator is to mentor and shield other people. So if you go out to a story and you're an older camera operator and you're with a younger reporter and they haven't seen something quite like this story before, you'll shield them a little bit and you'll offer to, you know, do the hard things. But actually there was a flip side to this where they would say, it's almost like a trap. It's like you can take that offer the first couple of times, but if you, if you can't handle doing this yourself, then maybe this isn't the job for you. And you definitely, I definitely saw that more in older generations, um, where it was like, look, this is the job, deal with it. I used to have to see harder things and had less support, you know, compared to how the industry has changed. So that was kind of interesting as well, that there is support but there's a limit on it and an expectation of, you know, you can hack it or you can't hack it. Yeah. Uh, which is potentially really problematic.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (37:11):
Sort of like it creates an in group of people that you know, are tough or the tough love and they can handle it and they intrinsically want to then try and handle it rather than reaching out for support and all the things that are probably beneficial after being exposed to trauma.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (37:25):
Yeah. And if you think about some of the ways that support is offered in, in the context of a crisis, like say some massive event happens and it's all hands on deck for coverage. I remember one camera operator who also did sound work was talking to me and saying he was in this experience and they were actually in the space in the office where the live feed was coming in for I think it was a flood. Um, and they were looking at how it was impacting Australia compared to other countries and they were watching people die in this footage basically. And management walked into the room and said, "look, we've got a psychologist set up the hall if you want to go see him, go for it." And he said to me, there was no way he was gonna walk away from his post and in front of everybody go talk to a psychologist. Yeah. Because of that, you get the job done and you move on.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (38:17):
There's sort of one thing that kind of comes up there in my head and I think you, when I was reading through some of your stuff, you touch on it a bit and it's that a lot of people can answer some of these qual questions you ask them, but some terms that you have could be difficult to kind of standardize across people. So for example, if you say, have you been exposed to a bushfire? You've got a camera person who's right there watching a blazing inferno in front of them. You've got a person that's watching the footage that was captured in an editing room and then maybe you have someone that worked on the job who was writing the article up and just is looking at pictures or something like that. And you could say that those three people could be technically exposed to that, but really there's not really a comparison of what it means to be in the inferno versus the writing of the article. And so I always wondered how that kind of translates to people saying they're exposed to trauma and how you deal with that?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (39:16):
In trauma research when we're trying to look at, you know, quantifying symptoms, you usually use these trauma exposure scales.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (39:23):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (39:23):
There's one or two specific ones for journalists, but there's also these like general trauma exposure things. So it'll be like, tick this box if you've been exposed to, you know, tick, which of the following 14 you've been exposed to car accident, a motor vehicle accident, bush fire, natural disaster, like, you know, even as you said natural disaster is really vague. So it's this list of things, you know, murder, sexual assault, whatever else. The exposure there, it's not clear what it is. So people in this area started to ask, well was it in the fields or was it from the office? But we've already talked about how from the office could be totally different. You might be writing story, calling contacts, you might be editing the footage, um, and in the fields it could be quite different as well. So the thing that comes to mind for me is reporters and camera operators telling me about their experience of death knocks. So death knock is when something horrible has happened, someone's passed away and the crew has to show up to the family's house, knock on the door and ask how it's impacting them, what's happening for them. I didn't talk to anybody who enjoyed doing this.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (40:29):
Hmm.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (40:29):
Pretty much everybody said it's a ratings thing, you know, like if you have the pictures and you have that sound bite, that's what people are gonna wanna watch on the news. But I was talking to them about, I was basically saying, who has it worse? The reporter or the camera operator and the camera operators consistently said watching the outcome and filming it, that's hard. But I'm glad I don't have to knock on the door and say, Hey, this is what I want from you and drudge that stuff up. Yeah. So the quality and the nature of exposure, even when they're together is really different. Mm. And yeah, could be different from not just across roles, but one camera operator covering a bushfire on one day compared to them covering it on another day. There's, there's just so much that's really hard to, the ecological validity and the controlling for different components is really hard in this area of research.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (41:20):
Yeah, I can imagine. And then so that would obviously have, once you get into the qualitative data, that's where you can kind of pull a lot more out. Once you have boxes ticked and you're trying to turn it into a number, that's where it's difficult. But when you do a lot of your qualitative research, I guess you can get much more richer information and have a look at what's actually going on.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (41:40):
Yeah. And that's why I'm a massive supporter of people, at least when they're doing applied research and thinking about a specific group, especially a niche group thinking about what is that context? Well we've got this value, we don't know if that's consistent. Like all the people who rated it 10 were the same or even that there is a meaningful difference between nine and 10. So I should say I do a bunch of quantitative research. Yeah. I'm not anti quantitative work, but there's pros and cons to both and yeah, I think when we're talking about mental health and reactions and the context, you know, a work context where exposed to trauma, not just putting numbers to it and to either side the trauma exposure and reaction, but actually sitting down and going, what was happening at the time? What do you think was the most impactful thing?

Dr Gabriel Tillman (42:27):
Yeah, and that's what I kind of found really interesting about your work is reading through the qualitative stuff, which basically pulls out these themes. We've already talked about a lot of it. So the role differences and how that occurs in these groups, role differences in social visibility and, and all that kind of stuff. That was all pulled out through qualitative stuff. But you also do the quantitative research, which kind of was looking at scores of people's wellbeing, uh, stress scores and that kind of thing. So cool that you're kind of doing, I guess what would be called a mixed method approach.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (42:56):
Yeah. Like one thing that's interesting about specific occupational trauma research and the journalism research was definitely like this and is increasingly improving is that there was definitely qualitative work, but the focus was PTSD symptoms and trauma exposure. And we've already talked about the need to contextualize by comparing to other occupational groups. There was actually a little bit of a barrier in terms of, well what do we already know in terms of trauma reaction and exposure in, in other occupational groups, Like the theory that informs research and the predictors of PTSD symptoms outside of trauma exposure. So for instance, we know that neuroticism, a personality variable is one of the most important predictors of trauma reactions and psychological distress. A paper that I've published this year focusing on camera operators, trauma exposure and reactions was, I think it's the first I've seen that someone's done it, but class, um, Backholm who's one of my co-authors, we put it quite tentatively in the paper cuz he is pretty sure he saw it somewhere else as well. . But, um,

Dr Gabriel Tillman (43:58):
Not published though, just somewhere else.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (44:00):
. Yeah. It's like taking that information or you know, I've done some stuff on substance use with journalists and it, it's measured, but it's not put in the context of well substance use disorders and thinking about things that would cause higher or lower levels. So we can start to understand not just what are the levels, but why are those levels there beyond personal trauma exposure and work related exposure.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (44:24):
Now that you, you kind of have a lot of this novelty in that you've, you know, you've picked out these invisible roles and showed how how they could be exposed to, you know, a lot of these traumatic events and it's disproportionate across roles. And then you've kind of moved on and done some quantitative stuff and showed, you talked about with the neuroticism and uh, stress scales. And interestingly like how there's no difference between reporters and camera people. Where do we go from here? So once we've highlighted that this is a situation and it's occurring in the news field, what can be done or what needs to be done from there?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (45:01):
So there's translational aspect of how do we take what we know and apply that in organizations and also, you know, for psychologists or mental health workers working with journalists, but there's also the, well what do we do in research? Because there is a little bit of stagnation in what has been focused on, For instance, we can look at PTSD symptoms and we can look at depressive symptoms, but there's a whole gamut of stress, anxiety and mood disorders that the general population experiences that may or may not be elevated because of trauma exposure and the stress and burnout that comes along with journalistic work., potentially not for all people. And we're not looking at these things. We're really doing cross-sectional quantitative analysis and saying high or low levels broadly on these symptoms. But we're not looking at diagnosis and thinking about, okay, how do we get to this point?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (45:51):
What's different about this group? What more support might we need here? And yeah, and we've talked about the need to contextualize findings. In terms of implementation, I make recommendations in every paper that I write and I also get asked by different journalists groups to do online sessions with them and I make recommendations based on research mine and other people's research of what could be useful within the organization across the crew or for individuals that we can draw from just broader trauma reaction literature. I found it at least hard to engage networks. So when I was recruiting for these studies, , um, yeah, I found it really hard to get access to people through commercial networks. The public service, ABC and SBS were far more open and supportive. And what I had to do was find people who had credibility within the industry because they'd been around forever and they've covered the toughest stories and people look up to them. They might have important roles within interest groups or unions. Yeah. So for instance, the Australian Cinematographer Society, if it weren't for them, it would've been really, really hard for me to recruit. And I did once have a, a conversation with a producer, I'll say for a network who said to me, we don't experience trauma here and if you talk to people you'll retraumatize them. I was like, wait, you know, retraumatize . It's the interesting choice of phrasing from someone who's usually quite particular in their phrasing. But, and I, I get it. I totally get it. But what I think is the issue there is this gap between what's happening in research and the implementation. Mm. Um, but I can say, you know, organizations like the DART Center in the US and Asia Pacific are doing that. And you know, people have been working within organizations like ABC and SBS and, and maybe they've got that in commercial networks now as well. I dunno, what's a black box to me? .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (47:43):
Yeah. Hard to get in.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (47:44):
Um,

Dr Gabriel Tillman (47:44):
Yeah. But it sounds like they would have resistance because even just that phenomenon you were talking about where it's, you know, you gotta be hard and you gotta not kind of show your weaknesses cuz that's the way you hack it. It seems like that as a singular phenomenon would be resistant to your recruiting strategy because you almost have to admit there's trauma and negative wellbeing associated with that to then be part of your study. And that's potentially a weakness or a show of weakness.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (48:12):
Okay. So the key thing that that raises is bias in recruitment in this area. Yeah, absolutely. Um, I do think that that is a potential issue. And I know especially with the qual work people I was talking to were, especially the camera operators, they'd be like, no one's ever wanted to talk to me about this. And it's real. Yeah. You know, these, there's serious issues here. And so that keeps me passionate to keep doing this work because I've seen those people and their faces and you know, like

Dr Gabriel Tillman (48:40):
Yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (48:40):
The importance of this work on top of the bias. This other aspect that you raise that's really interesting is the extent to which people will, you know, acknowledge or put their hand up and have a conversation about things like ptsd. So in my quant research, which wasn't just Australian, it was mostly Australian in terms of the sample, but it was an international sample. So this really interesting thing happened where the levels of PTSD symptoms were elevated was something like, depending which cutoff you use, 16, maybe 12, 12 to 30% of this group of camera operators, um, could be considered at risk of developing PTSD like a probable diagnosis, which we could never say from a survey we'd have to do a diagnostic interview. Um, which no research has done in this area yet. So if you're out there and you're keen, please do it . But depression, stress, anxiety remained lower. Now this is really interesting Gabe, and it's interesting because of the overlap in symptoms. So we would expect that if you have a higher score on PTSD measure, your score on the depressive symptoms measure is also gonna be elevated. And it wasn't. And I, I don't know, I'm speculating here and it's an informed speculation from conversations that I've had with people in the industry and collecting qualitative data. But hey, doesn't it make a lot more sense to acknowledge that kind of badge of honour disorder that like PTSD that comes along with veterans and people who have had hard experiences? That is predominantly a physiological reaction. You know, that sensory input might trigger memories or a distressive response, but it's, it's hypervigilant that's adaptive. But it's less kind of you know, heroic or stoic to acknowledge a mood disorder. You know, I feel sad, I'm, I feel hopeless, I'm not interested, you know, . Yeah, yeah. Um, I'm wondering if life is worth worthwhile so that, that to me stands out as still like an indication of that kind of bias in the way people are responding in this area that maybe PTSD because so much research has been done in this area and it's being emphasized and it has its physiological aspect. Not that depression doesn't, you know, we could unpack that, but to me it seems like at least the people I've sampled in this area are less, less inclined to acknowledge mood symptoms.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (51:04):
Yeah. And and like you said, it could even be the other way around where there, there is something about PTSD in this industry that acknowledging it is, um, not so much a, well yeah, as you phrase it, like a badge of honour or there's something about it being a, a camera person and having PTSD means that you've seen some stuff and so to acknowledge that in a survey, it's almost like a demand characteristic or like a reactive way to do the survey. It's like what they think people want to hear from them and dealing with that is, you know, I guess a tricky thing that anyone doing a survey could do. But I think it, you, you almost pointed out by the fact that there should be to some regard a correlation between depression, anxiety, stress and having PTSD symptoms. And then the fact that that wasn't there sort of points that out a bit. Which is good cuz you know a problem that you know is there is much better than a problem you don't know is there

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (51:58):
For sure. Yeah.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (52:00):
And what's interesting about what you just said then was that let's say for instance there is some demand characteristic, but if we put that aside for a minute, it's kind of a bit distressing to know that, what was it, 20 to 30% of these camera crew people could be clinically diagnosed with PTSd. And so that's just alarm bells in and of itself. I know that they need the follow up but still.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (52:23):
Yeah, exactly. But it is alarming if you look at within the general population, the rate of PTSD diagnosis is much lower. I think 5 to 6%. But it's been a very long time since I've looked, so I would caution and say we're maxing out at 10, but I'm pretty sure it's a lot lower than that, 5 to 6%. So in my work, looking at camera operators, yeah if I use the most conservative cutoff, 16.5. But if I use the cutoff that's used by other researchers in, in this area, so I use the more conservative one because research shows, you know, if we have a score on the scale over say 30, then people who are diagnosed with PTSD, 80% of them score over 30 on this. So other researchers, I've got some critical feedback from other researchers in the field that say you should really use the cutoff of 44. They're not the general population, their work is different. It's 16% at that higher cutoff and 30% at the lower cutoff. And it's still substantially higher than what I've seen in other studies.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (53:27):
Yeah. So we're basically dealing with a 16 to 30% rate of PTSD potentially. And in any case, it's much higher than the general population.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (53:36):
Exactly. Yeah. And the first sample that I've seen in the literature as well where everybody has been exposed to at least one traumatic event

Dr Gabriel Tillman (53:44):
Kind of paints a picture where all of these things are just working sort of against the camera operators. Like, like you said, they do love their job and they like to, to get into these situations cuz it's exhilarating. But we're talking about being exposed more often to trauma, having less support and as a metric having higher PTSD rates than the general population. And so just a lot of compounding factors and it's just very interesting to hear producers saying that PTSD or trauma doesn't happen here and don't talk to them cuz you'll retraumatize them like .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (54:18):
Actually since then there's been some lawsuits around employer negligence that, that gets you to start to think about, well actually what are, other than the psychological and the personnel cost that comes along with having single person crews, not supporting a crew, not letting circulate beats so they're not constantly covering the same kind of stressful story over and over again is potential litigation if stress and distress isn't considered and and addressed in this industry.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (54:50):
Yeah, right. And so you've looked at burnout in these camera operators and news crews and looked at a lot of research in that area as well, not just trauma.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (54:59):
Yeah, so I have, uh, conducted and published five systematic lit reviews. So one looks at, well what do we know about trauma exposure in this group? So that's work related and personal. And then it was trauma reactions broadly. So I've got one that looks at all the literature up until that time that we know about depressive symptoms. I tried to make it mood disorders, but that doesn't exist. It was just depressive symptoms, PTSD symptoms, substance use and burnout. The burnout one gets the most citations, but it's also open access. So it's a combination of it being increasingly important, especially now since COVID, um, and how that's impacted work, but also it's more, you know, freely accessible. So

Dr Gabriel Tillman (55:41):
Yeah. Wow. There's like a whole another podcast we could do just on the other four domains of your research, but we don't have to focus on, uh, research the whole time. I guess what people might not know is other things that you like doing. You know, I obviously you've done all this research, but what else do you do when you're not researching trauma and burnout and the like?

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (56:04):
One of my favorite things is comedy. Like I just really love any kind of trashy TV comedy series or standup comedy. So I live with my husband who's my best mate and my dog and hanging out with them is the best. We usually will sit on the couch and watch movies. So I'm very, uh, extreme in my personality. My favorite things are horror films and comedy . There's not a lot of in between

Dr Gabriel Tillman (56:30):
And when they go together it's perfect.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (56:33):
I actually only just watched Paranormal Activity and

Dr Gabriel Tillman (56:36):
I think I've seen that

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (56:37):
It was actually really good. I enjoyed it heaps.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (56:39):
Is that the one where it's like kind of real? Yeah, there's a camera on and yeah.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (56:43):
Yeah. Yeah. It almost suits this conversation and it's like, it's supposed to be like, you know, Johnny on the spot style journalistic coverage of this haunting that's happening in this house. It was a good watch and I only just watched The Ring the other day as well. So I always find it interesting when you like a genre and then you go, you know, you you come really late to to something that was really popular and they were both solid. Yeah. I don't, I dunno why I haven't watched them yet.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (57:09):
The classics, they're like almost classics now. actually people that are horror fans would uh, not like me saying that obviously with Nightmare on Elm Street and all that about those kind of Halloween classics.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (57:21):
Yes. Yeah, I actually, um, on Halloween watched the latest nightmare on Elm Street, which actually I think is not latest 2010 one where they kind of rebooted it. Uh, and I had mixed feelings about that. There were some really awesome visual things that they did in it. Yeah it didn't land for me. .

Dr Gabriel Tillman (57:40):
Yeah. I guess one last thing I need to ask is where do people find you? Where do people get in touch, read more of this cool work that you've been doing? Shameless self-promotion I think we call this.

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (57:51):
Yeah, so my website is where I keep a list of publications and links to them so they're not always free though. jasminebmacdonald.com.au. Yeah, it's got publications, list of talks and you can reach out to me via email on there. So that's hello@jasminebmacdonald.com.au. Probably if you wanna reach out and have a chat or ask any questions or just link up, love Twitter. And I also use LinkedIn, like it's Twitter . Like constantly post on LinkedIn as well. So on Twitter it's @jaz_macdonald and LinkedIn, it's jasminebmacdonald. Feel free to reach out.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (58:31):
Well I have certainly enjoyed this conversation. There's actually a lot of stuff I learned about you that I hadn't known previously despite knowing you for a while now and we'll have to discuss the ransom for getting you're podcast back .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (58:44):
Well look out dude, because I have just finished reading. Uh, Never Split The Difference by Hostage Negotiator Christopher Voss. It's like my favourite book right now.

Dr Gabriel Tillman (58:54):
So you're well prepared

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (58:55):
So. Oh, I'm all over it. Yeah. .

Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald (58:57):
For those of you at home, that's all for today. Show notes for the episode can be found at www.psychattack.com. If you've enjoyed listening to Psych Attack, please rate it on your favourite podcast platform and share this episode to help other people find the show. If you have questions or feedback, you can reach out on Twitter @PsychAttackCast. Thanks for listening and we'll catch up with you again next time.