Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Trauma in the Newsroom: Lessons on the importance of Australia's YZ case

journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-05, 06:03 authored by Matthew RicketsonMatthew Ricketson, Alexandra WakeAlexandra Wake
A landmark ruling by an Australian court has
put news media companies on notice they face
potential findings of negligence and subse quent compensation claims if they fail to ex ercise a reasonable duty of care to journalists
who cover traumatic events. Drawing on legal
doctrinal methodology, we look at the success ful case and compare it to an earlier unsuccess ful case at the same newspaper where journal ists sought damages from their employer for
injury caused by their work. The case before
the Victorian County Court in 2019 was the first
to recognise the risk of psychological damage
on those who report on traumatic events. The
court ruled that journalist YZ, who worked at
one of Australia’s oldest metropolitan daily
newspapers, The Age, be awarded A$180,000
for psychological injury suffered while work ing between 2003 and 2013. YZ had reported
on 32 murders and many more cases as a court
reporter. She covered what were colloquially
called Melbourne’s gangland wars, was threat ened by one of its notorious figures and found
it increasingly difficult to report on events in volving the death of children, such as the case
of a four-year-old who was murdered by her
father by being thrown from a bridge in 2009.
The court’s ruling – and ratification of the de cision at appeal – was in stark contrast to the
case from the same newspaper, in 2012, which
did not uphold the claim of a news photogra pher. Apart from the intrinsic importance of
the cases, it is relevant for journalism educators
who are charged with preparing the next gen eration of journalists, many of whom will cover
traumatic events. Educators and others have
been urging cultural change in newsrooms for years but this ruling shows that it may well be
now required by law. This paper asks: Can educators find sufficient space in a crowded curriculum to prepare students?



Ethical Space: the international journal of communication ethics




39 - 49


United Kingdom





Grant ID

Not applicable

Usage metrics

    Research Publications


    No categories selected