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When the crisis comes home: Emotions, professionalism, and reporting on 22 March in Belgian journalists’ narratives



Druh Článek v odborném periodiku
Časopis / Zdroj Journalism
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Obor Sociologie, demografie
Klíčová slova Crisis reporting; emotions; journalists; professionalism; terrorism
Popis On the morning of 22 March 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings planned by Daesh occurred in Brussels. Those Belgian reporters who commonly travel to conflict zones and disaster sites had to report on a ‘combat zone event’ that was happening at the place where they, their families, and friends lived. Their subjective experience of witnesses, actors, and even indirect victims merged with their professional tasks. The traditional journalistic commitment to objectivity – that is, detachment, impartiality, fairness, or professional distance – that remains to be a cornerstone of journalists’ professional self-perception and an assumed source of their authority, was challenged. The article seeks to explore the aftermath of the unprecedentedly close terrorist attacks among Belgian journalists. Based on in-depth, narrative interviews with 10 Belgian ‘crisis reporters’, the article addresses the following questions: In which sense did the reporters experience the attacks as different from other crises? How did they deal with the unusually complex relationship between their personal and professional identities? What form(s) of objectivity did they employ and (how) did their work on emotional boundaries interfere with such a norm? The findings show that the radical, ‘surreal’ alteration of the reporters’ lifeworld resulted in a fundamental conflict between personal and professional identities. In turn, their rupture but inseparability helped to shape the objectivity-as-a-practice employed by the journalists on and after 22 March.

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