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Improving mental health in (and outside) our newsrooms

Submitted by on November 11, 2020 – 6:12 pm | 21 views

This article by John Crowley was originally published on Journalism.co.uk. An excerpt is republished here with permission. Read the full article

Journalism was in a quandary well before covid-19, the victim of technological disruption, disinformation, a broken advertising model and an inflated sense of its own self-worth. Distrusted by the public and vilified by politicians, the industry was slow to adapt its business to the so-called information age it covered. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, John Crowley conducted a global survey to assess how journalists were coping during lockdown. His findings are published in a report entitled ‘Journalism in the Time of Covid’. The report urges news leaders to heed concerns from staff about their mental well-being. 

The pandemic is keeping the Fourth Estate in the spotlight, posing questions about the role of journalists in delivering news, politics and culture, when they are the ones who also shape and influence the stories they report on. 

This feeling of being at the centre of the conversation gives a false reading on journalism’s ability to be an influential force for good. 

Market forces and changing consumer habits are stripping the industry of the power and prestige from which it derives its credibility. Questions around journalistic advocacy, objectivity and truth are dealt with in far more detail elsewhere. But amidst the sound and fury, one constituency is still being ignored – the journalists themselves. 

Seemingly beset on all sides and fearful for their futures, large numbers are tired and demoralised by working long hours during covid-19. This is affecting the quality of their work.

By now, newsroom leaders really should not need to be told that many of their staff are burned out. But they stand transfixed, making minor lateral movements and seemingly unable to adapt as a tempest engulfs them.

They need to be shaken out of their stupor. The ‘Journalism in the Time of Covid’ is a message from those on the shop floor, and from freelancers who keep news sites going on a pittance.

We will talk about mental health inside and outside our newsroom on Tuesday 3 December. Join the conversation.

Illustration credit: Andrew Garthwaite

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