Honoring The Real First Responders in This Invisible War

Don't just thank the journalists, ask about their feelings

• April 13, 2020 4:30 pm


Former vice president Joe Biden recently praised America's journalists for "putting it all on the line for all of us" during the coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, America's journalists agreed with him.

Washington Post reporter Marissa J. Lang posted a series of tweets over the weekend highlighting the "traumatic stress" that journalists too often endure in silence. Journalists are the real "first responders," Lang wrote, and they are "out there risking our bodies and health" to report the news.

However, Lang argued, not enough attention is paid to the "physical and emotional health" of journalists who courageously type words into their laptops on their kitchen counters. In fact, she wrote, the issue is hardly, if ever, addressed in journalism school. Alarming, if true.

"You don't have to cover war to absorb trauma," wrote Lang. "You can also be in your own home—socially distanced, reporting remotely—and still be traumatized by the world we are all in and the issues we are all covering 24/7."

Lang offered some advice to her fellow journalists, such as CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, who has been struggling to maintain good posture while performing journalism at his dining room table without a fancy office chair.

"Be gentle with yourselves," Lang wrote. "Give yourselves permission to not be ok." Non-journalists, meanwhile, can show their gratitude by thanking journalists or asking how they are holding up. Journalists aren't just the first responders who keep us safe in times of war, invisible or otherwise, they're also people with feelings.

As you might expect, the Twitter thread was liked and shared by numerous journalists with verified accounts. Their suffering is real. As civilians, the least we can do is honor the sacrifices they make on our behalf.

Journalists like CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta will continue to risk it all for the American people and the U.S. Constitution. As he explained in his recently published book, which documents the courage required to shout questions at the president, Acosta knows that "at the end of the day the sacrifice will be worth it."

Published under: Coronavirus, Journalists, Media, Satire