Local News Burnout

CISLM's Local News Burnout report found high burnout rates among local journalists.

The journalists who power America’s struggling local news operations are experiencing burnout and considering leaving their jobs at high rates, according to results of a survey of more than 500 local journalists by the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.

The 2023 survey was conducted after more than a decade of layoffs, consolidation and change in the local news industry, and three years after the COVID-19 pandemic wrought dramatic changes to working conditions and brought workforce burnout into the national conversation. The results highlight a looming human resources crisis for news organizations that have leaned on employees to perform throughout the industry’s well-documented revenue and audience declines.

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 the sustainability of work in funding decisions and organizational management.

This page was published on 04/28/24

Our full report, including top-level findings:

  • Approximately 70% of journalists surveyed experienced personal and work-related burnout
  • Women and non-binary journalists experienced greater burnout than journalists identifying as men
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents said they had thought about leaving their current job

News leaders are advocating for better newsroom policies and practices to improve working conditions, often in one of two ways:

  • Operationally, which has a systemic impact but often requires more time, intentionality and agency from a team
  • Personally, in which each journalist creates boundaries for themselves and manages their response to stressful situations

CISLM Director Erica Beshears Perel:

  • Summarize the report and recommendations
  • Recap the high-level findings
  • Highlight where we can go from here

Any questions about the research, findings or future projects?

Reach out to the CISLM team

Resources & Reporting about local news burnout, published after our report

Elmo is the internet’s new therapist. But can he help solve burnout?

Apr 2, 2024

Local News Researcher Elizabeth Thompson noted that the 2023 local news burnout report was in response to the observations the CISLM team aspired to quantify after hearing about the topic often from local news journalists.

‘A recipe for burnout’: CISLM’s Elizabeth Thompson on journalism working conditions

Mar 19, 2024

The article also emphasizes that changes in the industry, including a landscape of shifting news values and layoffs, could be impacting the experiences of journalists and their burnout.

Burnout Remains a Problem. Journalists Are Helping Each Other Cope.

Jan 16, 2024

“The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media recently found that 70% of local journalists experienced work-related burnout. Over the years, I’ve realized what helps best is consulting resources created by reporters who have been through it.”

Local journalism’s burnout crisis is unsustainable

Jun 23, 2023

“It’s probably not surprising to a lot of people in the field, but it definitely should be something that’s dealt with and not thought of as OK,” said Elizabeth Thompson, CISLM local news researcher and the survey’s lead.

Navigating burnout as a journalist

May 26, 2023

Following more than a decade of layoffs and consolidation in the local news industry, 70% of journalists have experienced work-related burnout, according to a new survey from the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.