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77% of journalists suffer from work-related lockdown stress

More than three quarters of journalists have experienced lockdown-related stress according to a new survey which urges news leaders to address staff’s mental wellbeing.

77% of journalists suffer from work-related lockdown stress
John Crowley: “The wider public needs to know that the custodians of our liberty are at breaking point.”

As reported by Mariella Brown on the Society of Editors website:

The ‘Journalism in the Time of Covid’ report, launched by the report’s author John Crowley during the Society’s Mental Health in the Newsroom debate on Tuesday, has shed light on the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and working from home on journalists’ mental health.

Of those reporting lockdown-related stress, 57 per cent of respondents said this had affected their productivity and 59 per cent said they had experienced moments of feeling depressed or anxious.

Ninety-four per cent of journalists agreed that lockdown would change newsrooms the survey found, with a further 87 per cent saying they felt their employer should be responsible for their conditions of work at home.

However, the report also outlined how Covid-19 has opened up an opportunity for employers to address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace with a chance for the industry to “evolve post-lockdown”.

With journalists reporting burnout from covering Covid-19, both newsroom inclusion and inclusive reporting were suggested for newsroom leaders to address the issue.

One respondent stated: “[I want] more inclusion and diversity in journalism. More remote working which brings the work closer to communities and therefore brings more inclusive reporting.”

Additionally, when asked whether journalists had a positive experience of lockdown at work, 64% said no. Although more than a third (36%) said they had had a positive experience of lockdown as journalists.

A further respondent added, “More than the hours, it is being in the pandemic bubble that bothers me. I feel like I don’t have a clear perspective on what is going on and feel the need to ask non-journalists about their view of the situation to help me find a balance.”

The report made clear that while the findings were a wake-up call for the industry, the opportunity for change was in sight.

Introducing the report, Crowley said: “While this report documents the mental strain Covid-19 has placed on journalists, I believe the pandemic also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to hit the reset button.

“New tools, workflows and processes have come into play. This is genuinely exciting. Both newsprint and digital products have successfully been created, edited and published from bedrooms, sofas and kitchen tables.

“The wider public needs to know that the custodians of our liberty are at breaking point. But it may seem strange to say that it is not all doom and gloom. One respondent wrote that Covid-19 ‘may well get journalism to shed a lot of old skin and proceed remade in the future’. Time will ultimately tell.”

The report can be downloaded here.