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Blanket Marathon Bombing Coverage More Stressful Than Being There

A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows how media coverage can spread the negative effects of traumatic community events.

File photo: Police restore order in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Credit: Sara Jacobi
File photo: Police restore order in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Credit: Sara Jacobi
new study concludes that immersing yourself in wall-to-wall coverage of trauma can be more stressful than witnessing the actual event.

People who watched six hours or more of media coverage in the week after the Marathon bombing were nine times more likely to show signs of acute stress than people with minimal exposure to the troubling news. And those who binged on media coverage even had higher levels of stress than people who had been directly exposed to the horrors of April 15, 2013.

Here's how the abstract of the study sums it up: "Mass media may become a conduit that spreads negative consequences of community trauma beyond directly affected communities."

Boston Magazine has an interesting take on the study, pointing out that researchers say the lesson isn't necessarily that media should stop saturation coverage.

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