My research is in the field of media reporting of trauma, death and bereavement. It focuses specifically on narratives, genre and framing; norms of behaviour, journalistic processes and ethical issues, and teaching intrusive reporting. I have published articles in these areas in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Journalism Practice, Ethical Space and Journalism Education. My doctoral thesis investigated the pressures placed on journalists during their reporting of traumatic events, specifically issues relating to intrusion caused by the “death knock”, where a reporter is sent to interview the bereaved relatives of a person who has died unexpectedly.
I am particularly interested in journalists’ reporting of ordinary citizens and their individual stories, whether in the context of a single tragic incident or in a humanitarian crisis. My work in this area has focussed on the manner in which journalists express the grief of the traumatised and bereaved and the ethical issues raised by their reporting.
I submitted evidence on media reporting of the bereaved to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press based on my research with my collaborator, Jackie Newton of Liverpool John Moores University. Our work has led to us being invited to write an article on effective death reporting for the BBC College of Journalism, and to considerable press interest.
A second area of my research is media coverage of suicide and mental health. I have recently completed an extensive revision of professional guidelines on media reporting of mental health and suicide for the National Union of Journalists in Scotland. As part of the Engage with Strathclyde event 2013, I organised a seminar, Reporting Mental Health and Suicide by the Media, and brought together suicide and mental health specialists, charity representatives, journalists and academics to share their knowledge and practice in this field. I am also undertaking collaborative research on perceptions of and changing approaches to media reporting of suicide.
I am also interested in the effects of technology on journalistic processes. My main areas of interest are digital story-telling and the influences that technology has on narratives as well as journalists’ use of social media, particularly in the coverage of traumatic events.
Recent presentations include guest talks at the Console Conference (Dublin, September 2013) and The Future of Humanitarian Reporting conference (City University, London, March 2013) and an invitation to lead a professional seminar, The Death Knock – the Ethics of Reporting Grief and Tragedy, at the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, Europe, (London, June 2012).