Churn And Burn: Why Journalists Are Stressed On The Job

Journalists are burning out at a rapid rate, with consequences for their newsrooms and perhaps for democracy itself, judging by The Burnout Crisis in Journalism: Solutions For Today’s Newsroom, a study by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, in partnership with the research firm SmithGeiger.

Across the country, 44% of all professionals are pessimistic about the state of journalism, with 56% feeling that way in the South. 

And 36% agree that covering news is much more challenging than it was in the past. 

Those are not the only negative feelings: 49% feel journalism is a dangerous profession. 

Yet 91% of working journalists say, “I love what I do.”

The question remains: what can be done to relieve the stress now felt by reporters?



RJI surveyed 1,10 current and former journalists, students and educators between October and November 2023.  

In general, the study determined that newsrooms face these issues: 

  • Having to do more with less
  • Budget cuts
  • Increasing distrust from consumers
  • Experienced professionals leaving the industry
  • Social media

But it also identified possible solutions: 

  • Work hours and flexibility options—i.e., four-day work weeks, hybrid shifts and more remote work. 
  • Changes in newsroom culture—for example, more input on how work is done and jobs are performed and acknowledgement of the valuable work being done. (The latter was the top choice of former journalism pros.)

Among the practicing reporters and managers, 44% cite work hours and flexibility, an idea favored by 50% of those who formerly were in the field.

In addition, 46% of the former toilers in the field suggest changes in newsroom culture, versus 32% of today’s practitioners. And veterans are more likely than those now employed to favor management training. 

(Here’s one more suggestion, which is not in the report: extricate newsrooms from owners who think laying off reporters and editors is the only way to increase profitability.)


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