“This is a silent epidemic”: Mental health in newsrooms needs more attention

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Increasing anxiety, feelings of loneliness and depression are just part of the chain reaction that many people feel, which are the direct result of mandatory workplace changes in response to the coronavirus.
For journalists covering crises, or making editorial products from their sofas, kitchens and bedrooms, the past nine months have been a relentless pursuit. However, according to media experts and experienced reporters, the loss to the mental health of editors is not prominent enough.
For many people, this leads to varying degrees of burnout, overwhelming anxiety, depression, insomnia and loneliness. Freelance journalist and media consultant John Crowley (John Crowley) said: "Journalists feel they are in a pandemic bubble and report this depressing story 12 hours a day."
Allegedly, due to the pandemic plagues all walks of life, the messy pressure on the family and parenting, and the work challenges in remote areas, field editors are also worried about contracting the virus and taking it home. Kristin Neubauer, producer of Reuters TV programs, global coordinator and peer supporter of Reuters Peer-to-Peer Network. In this plan, clinicians are trained in active listening, empathy, self-care techniques, and when to recommend someone to a professional. "Reuters has been working hard to provide and update safety equipment and procedures, but even with all this support, this concern can cause great anxiety," Neubauer said.
In April, Crowley surveyed 130 journalists from multiple media companies around the world, and published the findings in a November report. In the report, 64% of the respondents said they had no positive work experience during the lock-in period, while 77% of the respondents said they experienced work-related stress. A total of 59% said they have experienced moments of depression or anxiety. When asked about their working conditions at home, 87% said that they think the employer is responsible or responsible for their working conditions.
Crowley talked with reporters from various publications in the UK, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa and Indonesia. They revealed that at the beginning of the pandemic in March, people were transitioning from home to running news media. in. Mental health becomes an afterthought. Crowley said: "People are at a loss." "It's all under the challenge of finding a business model. People are asked to do more work and others are laid off. When the first lockdown, people get sick. The situation is even more prominent. This is primitive, and there is a silent [burnout] epidemic. It feels like the head of the newsroom either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. They feel it themselves."
The cost reduction caused by the pandemic means that publishing executives have learned about unemployment through video calls instead of in person. The national and regional news publisher Reach was forced to lay off 550 employees (325 from editorials and publishers) during the summer with the aim of saving £35 million (US$47 million) in costs after the revenue was hit by the coronavirus.
"We have to have a lot of conversations with people about their future, and a lot of union consultations. We can't do anything face to face. That time was a very stressful period for the company." Listener and content editor, editor of Northwest Report Said Alison Gow, president of the society.
She added that it is crucial to have a space for dialogue with managers and editors, not just for numbers and goals. "If you are a news editor, then you will face the pressure of dealing with content, managing the team, rotation, people must be isolated from the world, and you must be aware of how people feel about mental health and whether you provide adequate support-this will give The manager brings new pressure." Gow said.
Remote work makes it more difficult for the editorial team to communicate with the media and basic human interaction, and not everyone has a spacious home environment. "Usually our lower-level employees share houses or live in smaller apartments, and the basic physical challenges of working safely at home are more severe," said Jon Birchall, Reach Sports Audience and Content Director. "Everyone must pay attention to how the new normal works."
Many media organizations have worked together to resolve the pressure of journalists. Reuters has its Peer Network and CiC global trauma support and advisory services, the latter includes a 24/7 confidential hotline, and its reporters can get professional help from anywhere in multiple languages.
Politico, Bloomberg Media, Axios, and The Guardian all add new benefits to the entire staff, such as additional PTO, company vacations, and training focused on mental health. The BBC also has a 24/7 employee assistance program and mental health first aiders. The broadcaster said that since the pandemic, it has further promoted these services to employees, and held mental health and resilience meetings on Zoom, as well as remote work seminars.
However, many people believe that the culture of some old newsrooms is still unable to openly discuss the mental health of employees, and many newsroom leaders are not known for their understanding of interpersonal skills, but for assimilation. Excessive pressure.
Shirish Kulkarni is an experienced journalist. He has 25 years of work experience in all major broadcast newsrooms in the UK. He himself suffers from depression and anxiety. He said that when solving mental health problems in newsrooms, There is still too much verbal expression.
Kulkani said: "The newsroom provides photographers and women and war reporters with a post-traumatic stress disorder script." "If someone gets PTSD in a war zone, they know exactly what to do. Here is one A step-by-step guide. But no one can understand the mental health of newsrooms. There is no script on more common daily problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. Many of their employees are dealing with these problems, but very Few managers know how to deal with it."
Hannah Storm, CEO of Ethics News Network, said that those with mental health problems usually don’t think they’ll talk about it publicly at work because they’re worried that it is thought to harm their career development. Weakness. She said: "We found ourselves not making excuses by default, because our media industry cannot accept that mental illness is not a legitimate reason for losing a job." "(In the newsroom) mental illness causes great shame."
According to Storm, it is usually those who are traditionally more marginalized due to gender, sexual identity, race, race, or disability, and due to the nature of their lives or demographic conditions, they are usually the most vulnerable to mental distress. The same is true for interns or freelancers without a support system. She added: “If you don’t feel that you are represented in the newsroom, your ability to represent yourself will be weakened and you are worried about talking about your own experience and whether this will affect your career and how you will be affected in the newsroom. Pay attention."
Most people agree that culture is beginning to change (albeit slowly). Reuters’s Neubauer said: “Through continuous efforts, outreach and discussion, I hope that journalism will continue to be open to mental health and understand that the highest quality news comes from concentrated, balanced and supportive journalists.”
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Post time: Dec-08-2020