FSD3483 Journalists' Views on Reporting Tragedy 2019

The dataset is (B) available for research, teaching and study.

Download the data

Study description in other languages

Related files


  • Heiskanen, Benita (University of Turku. The John Morton Center for North American Studies)
  • Cheas, Kirsi (University of Turku. The John Morton Center for North American Studies)
  • Kannisto, Maiju (University of Turku. The John Morton Center for North American Studies)
  • Hirvioja, Jaakko (University of Turku. The John Morton Center for North American Studies)


crimes against persons, journalism, journalists, news, professional ethics, social media, working conditions


The survey charted the professional experiences, values and opinions of journalists working for Finnish news media regarding the objectives of the media and the ethical challenges when reporting on cases of violence, specifically school shootings. The survey was conducted as part of the #TRAGE research project by the University of Turku John Morton Center for North American Studies. The project examines the media's reporting on school shootings and aims to open a new avenue for discussing the challenges posed by such reporting. The project is funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

First, the respondents were asked how often they had reported on cases of violence or on school shootings, how independently they could plan and carry out journalistic content, and whether they felt they had enough journalistic freedom. Questions also focused on what the respondents thought were the biggest challenges in reporting school shootings and whether they thought there had been a specific shooting that changed the way tragedy is reported. Additionally, the respondents were asked whether tragedy journalism and its conventions and impacts had been separately discussed in their organisation. The survey also extensively charted the journalists' views on ethical journalism with questions on, for instance, whether they thought it possible that one set of ethical guidelines could be applied by all journalists globally and what they thought were the best tools for preparing a journalist to create ethical content (e.g. ethical guidelines, workshops or supplementary education, advice from a colleague).

Next, the respondents were asked what they thought was essential information that should be published when reporting on tragedy (e.g. suspect's name or photo, names or photos of victims). Views on the motivation and reasons behind school shootings were examined, and the respondents were asked whether they were familiar with and adhered to the 'No notoriety' principle. Furthermore, the respondents' opinions on what should be taken into particular consideration when dealing with underage victims and what kind of responsibilities a journalist has when reporting on traumatising events were surveyed. Finally, the respondents were asked how they dealt with the stress caused by reporting on tragedy, whether they had a personal Twitter account and how openly they shared their personal opinions on their Twitter account, and whether they thought social media had changed journalism.

Background variables included the respondent's age, gender, work experience, role at work, and which political party they voted for in the last elections. Additionally, background information was collected on the format in which the respondent usually published news content, the primary target audience of the news media/organisation they worked for, and whether the news media/organisation was local or regional.

Study description in machine readable DDI-C 2.5 format

Creative Commons License
Metadata record is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.