This is Behind the Headlines with Headlines Network. Each episode, journalists Hannah Storm and John Crowley will be joined by colleagues from across the news industry who will share their experiences, the challenges they have faced and how they have managed their mental health. We'll hear stories that rarely get told, those of the story-tellers, explore why journalism matters, and why the human beings who bring us the news matter too.
You can send your questions to the team via firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com) or tweet @HeadlinesNet using #HeadlinesPod
The Headlines Network podcast is produced by Hannah Storm and John Crowley in partnership with Boffin Media.
Hannah Storm and John Crowley speak with Fergal Keane, in a special episode to coincide with the launch of his new book ‘The Madness’.
After decades covering some of the most dangerous places in the world, Fergal reflects on the trauma he has experienced as a journalist, and how his childhood shaped his mental health. This conversation takes us from his Irish roots to reflections on the genocide in Rwanda, and the guilt he felt after, to Ukraine where he has covered the refugee story in his commitment to step back from conflict.
Fergal explains how he wrote the book to try to make sense of his mental health, including his PTSD and alcoholism and he offers hope to others struggling with isolation. It’s a fascinating conversation with one of the BBC’s most well-known journalists, who offers a clarion call to our industry to take seriously conversations about mental health in journalism and reminds us that mental health is an ongoing journey.
WARNING: Contains some strong language and adult themes.
Leona O'Neill is our guest for this World Mental Health Day episode. Here she speaks with Hannah Storm and John Crowley about the horrific moment when fellow journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead as she stood next to her, while covering a riot in Northern Ireland.
Leona shares how in the aftermath of that trauma, she became the target of violent online threats and how these episodes impacted her mental health. Speaking with humanity and immense bravery, Leona describes how she was motivated to channel her trauma to tackle taboos in our industry, and how the book, 'Breaking: Trauma in the Newsroom' came from that.
The book, published this month and edited by Leona and the BBC's Chris Lindsay, combines the courageous testimonies of journalists who describe how their work has impacted their mental health. It's a tribute to their courage and to the determination of our podcast guest and her passion to move from a news culture that breaks us to one that makes better journalism.
In this episode, Hannah Storm and John Crowley are joined by Alex Crawford, Special Correspondent for Sky News, who talks about some of the more traumatic moments of her journalism career, such as being kidnapped in Afghanistan, and when she was trapped in a Mosque in Libya, where she witnessed the suffering of injured and dying people.
By bravely sharing her experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder, Crawford offers a message of hope to those who may feel ashamed or isolated, and a reminder of why she and so many other journalists keep on returning to stories where they risk their own safety, in order to bear witness and hold power to account.
Hannah Storm and John Crowley speak with ABC correspondent James Longman. In this episode James talks about the sense of responsibility he feels towards those he interviews, in particular the impact on them of being asked to relive often traumatic experiences, and the risks they take in sharing their stories. He recounts some of the devastating experiences of people he has met during his war reporting and what happened when he came out to a Chechen Police Chief who had been spearheading the persecution of homosexuality in Chechnya.
James tells John and Hannah how he copes with the pressures of social media, and how he manages to show a side of himself that's separate from his journalism, while at the same time protecting his mental health. He also shares his own story, one that has seen him investigate his family's history of mental ill health, after the suicides of his father and grandfather, and he speaks openly about his experiences of depression and illness. In doing so, he underscores the importance of being able to speak more openly about issues relating to mental health and how hearing the stories of others has helped him feel less alone.
Content warning: this episode deals with the issue of suicide and contains accounts of covering war zones that listeners may find traumatic.
Emily Morgan and Victoria Macdonald
Hannah Storm and John Crowley host a special conversation between two ITN colleagues, Emily Morgan and Victoria Macdonald, who share their experiences of covering the Covid pandemic. In this episode, Victoria, the Health and Social Care Editor for Channel 4 News, and Emily, the Health Editor at ITV News – talk about the unprecedented nature of news reporting in the past two and a half years and how the toll of continuous reporting on Covid led them both to seek out therapy. With refreshing honesty, they talk about the impact of their work on their mental health - something that many in journalism still find it hard to discuss. They share how they gained support from each other and their newsrooms. Emily and Victoria also pay tribute to the people whose stories they have shared during the pandemic, speak about navigating a constantly changing and uncertain story and dealing with conspiracy theories and online falsehoods. This is an episode that reminds us why journalists matter and why journalism matters even more at times of public health crises.
Hannah Storm and John Crowley speak with Stuart Ramsay, Sky News’s longest serving foreign correspondent. In this episode, Stuart shares previously unpublished details about the ambush by Russian soldiers which he and his team survived in Ukraine earlier this year. He describes the moment he was shot and how he discovered the full extent of the bullet impacts he sustained. Stuart tells Hannah and John how he decompresses after a particularly tough assignment, the importance of working as part of a team, and offers his advice to others on how to look after their mental health - and how conversations about wellbeing have changed in the industry.