Motivation, Risk Taking and Front Line Journalism: A Pilot Study
For war journalists, no assignment carries higher risk than wartime and post-war Iraq. For those scribes who opt in, it is literally the most dangerous assignment of the modern age — exponentially more dangerous than any of the 20th century wars. So why do they do it? The answer correlates strongly with findings derived from survey data presented in this paper. We surveyed 50 final-year journalism students at Ryerson University in Toronto to test our hypothesis that those students who self-identify as wanting to pursue careers in foreign as opposed to domestic journalism exhibit higher levels of risk-taking behaviours measured across four categories: thrill-seeking, experience-seeking, disinhibition, and boredom susceptibility. Students also completed a cognitive measure, namely the Gambling task (University of Iowa, 1997) which tests judgement and risk-taking, tapping into measurements of impulsivity and the ability to regulate the consequences of one's decision making.
Keywords: Journalism, War journalists, Risk-taking behaviour
Prof. Jagg Carr-Locke
Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University