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Journalists reporting on the Israel-Hamas war from outside the immediate region are also being confronted each day with graphic imagery that they cannot look away from as they work to verify reports on the expanding conflict online and deliver the facts to the public.
While the challenges are dwarfed by the myriad of horrendous troubles afflicting those residing in the Middle East, they are without question leaving many reporters working in the digital battlefield scarred, with awful scenes forever imprinted into their memories.
The task is taking a particular toll on journalists whose specific roles are tasked with surfacing video and images from the war and subsequent humanitarian disaster and authenticating the imagery for use in reporting.
“The challenges our journalists face pale in comparison to what people in the region are experiencing. However, viewing this graphic footage does have an impact on our team,” James Law, the editor-in-chief of Storyful, told me Wednesday.
Storyful is a news organization that sifts through the vast ocean of content posted on social media. The company then verifies — or in many cases debunks — that information for other newsrooms, which saves them valuable time and resources.
“As a result, it is our duty to look closely at the most confronting content posted online,” Law said.
Law told me that his reporters have “been viewing extremely graphic footage as part of their daily work since the initial attack.” Such video and photographs, he explained, have included “violence, dead bodies, [and] the worst imaginable images.”
“Our journalists have risen to the challenge of this incredibly difficult story, but we’re very conscious of acknowledging the toll this can take on our team members’ welfare,” Law said.
The work the Storyful team is doing is happening across the news industry right now, with scores of reporters assigned the responsibility of analyzing the horror posted online and then helping their newsrooms make sense of it. Often times, viral images circulated on social media platforms turn out not to be from the current Israel-Hamas conflict, making their work crucial in separating fact from fiction.
Newsrooms have recognized the mental toll that the work is taking on their journalists, with many offering support resources to their staffs. But, even with such resources, it’s difficult to unsee the realities of war.
“Our journalists know what they do is critical, which gives them a sense of purpose in these situations,” Law said, “and proves an effective way of dealing with such confronting material.”