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Mexican journalists and journalists covering war: a comparison of psychological wellbeing

Anthony Feinstein (Based at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Science Centre, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 5 April 2013




War journalists confront many dangers, leaving them at risk for mental health problems. They are, however, able to take breaks from the hazards of frontline work by periodically leaving conflict zones for the safety of home. This respite is not afforded local journalists who cover conflict situations. An example of this may be found in Mexico where journalists reporting on the drug cartels may under threat. This inability to seek temporary respite from grave danger may theoretically increase levels of psychological distress. The purpose of this paper is to examine this possibility.


The study sample comprised 104 Mexican journalists and a control group of 104 war journalists (non‐Mexican, demographically matched). Outcome measures included indices of posttraumatic stress disorder (Impact of Event Scale‐Revised)(IES‐R), depression (Beck Depression Inventory‐Revised (BDI‐II) and psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire‐28 (GHQ‐28).


Mexican journalists had higher scores on the avoidance (p=0.01), arousal (p=0.0001), but not intrusion (p=0.29) scales of the IES‐R. They had higher scores on the BDI‐II (p=0.0001) and anxiety (p=0.0001), somatic (p=0.0001) and social dysfunction (p=0.01) subscales of the GHQ‐28.

Practical implications

Mexican journalists targeted by drug cartels have more psychopathology than journalists who cover war. News organisations that employ journalists in this line of work therefore need to be aware of this and have a mechanism in place to provide treatment, when needed.


This is the first study to directly explore the psychological effects of violence on local journalists who do not cover war, but nevertheless live and work in areas of grave danger.



Feinstein, A. (2013), "Mexican journalists and journalists covering war: a comparison of psychological wellbeing", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 77-85.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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