Commentary

Publishers Fret Over Employee Burnout, Lack Of Diversity

Slumping pay and lower social status for journalists are among the reasons for employee burnout. That has become a key worry for news publishers. They also fret over the lack of diversity among their editorial staff, according to a Reuters Institute survey of publishers worldwide.

“The explosion of content and the intensity of the 24-hour news cycle have put huge pressure on individual journalists over the last few years,” Nic Newman, senior research associate, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said in the report. “Burnout concerns were most keenly felt in editorial roles.”

About two-thirds of publishers, 62%, said they were “concerned” or “very concerned” about staff burnout because of work overload or the relentless nature of the job.

As someone who has worked for various publishers, I can attest to those pressures and the middling pay. Publishers are always asking editorial staff “to do more with less” as declining or flat-lining ad sales compel them to cut labor costs.

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Stories go unreported, and more time is spent “aggregating” or “curating” stale coverage by other publishers. Diminishing editorial quality eventually leads to lost readership in a downward spiral as audiences turn elsewhere for news.

Maintaining relevance to readers is a big reason to promote newsroom diversity, which is another key concern for publishers, the Reuters Institute study found.

More than half, 56%, of survey respondents said they were concerned about the level of employee diversity. In the United Kingdom, almost all media companies pay men more than women, and men have most of the senior management jobs, according to a separate study by the Press Gazette.

But diversity also includes political views, not just worries about race and gender.

“In the U.S., there is an increasing focus on political diversity with many newsrooms accused of anti-Trump bias and being out of touch with middle America,” Newman said in the report. “With times increasingly tough, publishers can’t afford to alienate any audience.”

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