Five recommendations to ensure the well-being of journalists

The middlesex university has recently published a set of recommendations to support the well-being of journalists as part of the project “The emotional labor of journalists in the age of social networks”, financed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

In the spring of 2022, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined a dozen stakeholders to exchange knowledge and discuss ways in which the well-being of journalists could be supported to benefit their mental health and job satisfaction, as well as the quality of journalism. This working group has made five recommendations.

“These recommendations, agreed upon by the multi-stakeholder group, show that the issue of the welfare of journalists is on the agenda of many in the industrybut also that we are just beginning to tackle the issue and that there is a lot of work ahead”, emphasizes Maja Simunjak, director of the project.

Recognize the problem of well-being and contribute to the culture of change

Journalists have long been taught to be detached and to have “tough skin.” The industry must recognize that journalists experience physical and emotional reactions to work and its conditions, often stress and exhaustion. Many aspects of daily work can be potential responsibilities, from constant pressure to meet deadlines to always being on the go, working long and irregular hours, facing precarious conditions and online abuse.

Educate and train in emotional intelligence and mental health

Work-related stress can be mitigated with personal resources such as emotional intelligence and resilience. Journalism educators, the media, professional associations and unions should offer training in the development of personal resources to deal with occupational hazards at work for journalists and managers.

Create and deliver fair and transparent support systems within the media

Efforts by HR departments to offer wellness support are often described as inappropriate and the access to free counseling and therapy is inconsistent across companies of media. Must be adopt the equitable welfare principlewhich means that everyone has fair and efficient access to transparent and user-friendly systems, including freelancers and temporary staff. Proactive record keeping systems should also be instituted to enable prevention or early detection.

Ensuring that wellness practices and systems are accessible and sustainable

Sustainability is the key to success. To achieve wellness, journalists should have easily accessible information such as toolkits on available resources, their rights, obligations of employers, support contactsexpectations about the duty of care, physical security recommendations and online etc The peer support networks they can also become a resource for managing the welfare of journalists.

Build and join coalitions to support evidence-based solutions

Much work remains to be done to put the issue of journalists’ well-being and mental health on the agenda and to create and implement appropriate support systems. We need to build coalitions among stakeholders that, through the sharing of knowledge and experience, contribute to cost-effective, evidence-based results.. Trade unions, NGOs, companies and political institutions must secure funding for the development and implementation of welfare support resources, in particular as regards the self-employed and those whose employers do not yet offer welfare support appropriate.

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