I predict that 2018 is the year when newsroom culture will finally be a priority. That means leadership teams who are concerned about whether or not their journalists are fulfilled by their work and contributions. That means editors and managers who are actively looking out for the well-being of their teammates. That means breaking down outdated silos and finding ways to truly work collaboratively across teams.
Why do I think this is really going to happen? Because I’ve seen panels popping up at journalism conferences about self-care and burnout. Because I’ve watched newsrooms across the country take small steps toward purging sexual harassers from their ranks. Because I recently joined a gathering of more than 100 journalists and technologists for two days of discussion around how to make newsrooms better places to work.
We all agreed that the work we’re doing as journalists is more important now than ever. We agreed that investigative work matters, that beautiful storytelling matters, and that finding sustainable business strategies matter. But we also agreed that it matters whether or not journalists know how to grow in their current positions. And it matters whether or not people actually enjoy showing up to work every day. And it also matters whether people feel safe and supported in their newsrooms.
Journalism is hard work — we all know that. Most journalists and news technologists could be making far more money doing far easier work in another industry, and yet we stay. It’s time for newsroom leadership teams to step up and implement real strategies to support their journalists. Start that mentorship program you’ve been thinking about. Pitch a project that requires work across several teams. Do something nice for a teammate or colleague. Be a better citizen of your newsroom.
As we examine new and innovative ways to deliver our news, it’s just as important to examine the ways we collaborate to build our news reports. Are we constantly learning? Are we building strong relationships between reporters, technologists, designers, and editors?
In 2018, a healthy news organization is one where everyone is constantly pursuing greater heights, both individually and as a team.
Newsroom culture matters because every year we’re losing talented journalists to other fields, other pursuits — a trend that disproportionately affects women and journalists of color. Journalists leave the field because they aren’t empowered to grow in their careers, because they feel like “only lonelies,” and because they lack formal and informal mentorship. As our industry rapidly changes, traditional career paths have been broken: and it’s time for us to help each other chart our futures together.
Emma Carew Grovum is a product manager at The Daily Beast.