Emotionality and Professionalism: Exploring the Management of Emotions by Journalists Reporting on Genocide

Research paper by Caitlin Knight

Indexed on: 20 Nov '19Published on: 12 Nov '19Published in: Sociology


Sociology, Ahead of Print. The dynamic nature of reporting requires journalists to interrogate their emotions as well as their sense of professionalism. This article focuses on the complex relationship between emotionality and professionalism mediated by journalists who reported on cases of genocide. This extraordinary conflict situation provides a unique lens from which to explore the personal and professional resolve of journalists. Utilising interviews with UK journalists that reported on genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica, this article develops a framework which characterises journalistic emotional labour as distinct, multi-faceted and somewhat contradictory. While participants described reporting as a focused, professional process in which emotions were silenced, the instinctual element and residual emotional toll associated with reporting on genocide demonstrates emotionality was not entirely absent. This article therefore provides a future template from which to explore emotional labour as part of a transformative relationship between journalists’ emotionality and professionalism.