This study paints a picture of local journalists in crisis.
Most local journalists that responded to this survey experienced moderate to high personal burnout (72%) and work-related burnout (70%). The average journalist surveyed experienced moderate to high personal and work-related burnout.
Journalists are experiencing higher amounts of personal and work-related burnout than source-related burnout, the study showed. This is some evidence of a sentiment from journalists — interacting with sources and reporting is not where as many journalists are struggling. Future research further looking into the types of employment environments where burnout persists would help us understand the specific causes of personal and work-related burnout.
Young journalists and those identifying as women were more likely to experience burnout in this study. This is concerning, as young journalists are the future of the industry. The age group that experienced the least burnout was respondents 45 and older. Because the average age of a manager is 44 years old, managers should consider the strong relationship between burnout and age in their management of younger journalists.
The vast majority — 72% of respondents — were considering leaving their journalism jobs, which is a higher percentage than studies estimate for the total workforce. We found a strong relationship between work-related burnout and journalists considering leaving their current position. Journalists expressed that higher pay and more support from newsroom leadership were the driving factors that would make them stay.
Solutions journalists offered that they said would make them stay — specifically higher pay and more support from newsroom leadership — are things that journalists have long asked for. A 2022 CISLM study found an expansion of unions in local newsrooms as workers seek these improvements through collective action.
Some solutions provided by the journalists surveyed, such as higher pay, may not be possible for all employers. However, a number of responses proposed solutions that may be more accessible to employers, such as setting more realistic expectations for content production and pageviews.
Good working conditions for journalists are essential to the sustainability of news organizations and to local journalism. Local Independent Online News (LION) publishers has conceptualized the idea and practice of operational resilience, which includes company culture and staff support, as one of the three pillars of sustainability for news alongside financial health and journalistic impact.
As the journalism industry continues to experience changes and consolidation, it is vital that leaders prioritize sustainability of work in funding decisions and organizational management.