Avoiding Journalist Job Stress and Burnout: A Career Change


Burnout occurs in every profession. For journalists it may be a sign they are ready for a career change. But it also may be an indicator that they are ready to pursue other areas of the profession.

Remaining excited about any profession can be challenging. Most workers are stuck in the same office for many years, work with the same people, and – for the most part – perform the same duties on a regular basis. For journalists, the situation is much the same. While they have the luxury of getting out of the office and are always covering something new, burnout is also inevitable.

The loss of excitement about being a journalist may indicate it is time for a career change or going back to school to pursue a degree in a different profession. There is also the possibility someone is ready to pursue the next phase in their journalism career.

Below are some of the different positions journalists can pursue to keep their careers exciting, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Editor. Working as an editor is usually the first step in the advancement of a journalist’s career. From the copy editor responsible for cleaning up a reporter’s copy to the executive editor who approves (and often criticizes) every detail, working as an editor offers the opportunity to be an individual who has the final word on how news stories and the overall paper looks.

Advantages: For journalists, the advantages of working as an editor are obvious – promotion, more pay, and more prominence in the operation of a newspaper. For managing and executive editors, the opportunity exists for representing the newspapers at public functions and playing a role as a community leader.

Disadvantages: Working as a copy or wire editor can be boring, with journalists formerly out covering events now confined to a desk all day. In addition, editors are charged with the thankless job of polishing copy written by someone else. This means assuring that stories are readable, checking and correcting information, and spicing up stories – all without the credit reporters receive when their names appears at the top of a story.

Specialty Writer. From working as a sports reporter writing about major sporting events and interviewing celebrity athletes to covering the latest entertainment news, specializing as a journalist offers a venue for invigorating a career. The options are endless. A religion writer may see an opportunity for sharing their faith, while business writers can share their knowledge of market trends. A travel writer can pursue their love of traveling.

Advantages: Working in a specific area allows a journalist the chance to refocus their efforts as a writer through travel, meeting celebrities, being on the sidelines of games, etc. It is also a welcome break because it involves writing feel-good stories as opposed to hard news that is often depressing.

Disadvantages: Journalists who cover entertainment and sports generally have more fun, but are often not respected as serious journalists. Thus, those who want to make a name in the profession would probably have more of an impact covering hard news. There is also a possibility of eventually experiencing the same burnout that led a journalist to consider becoming a sports, entertainment, or religion writer. After all, how many college football games can you cover or movies can one person review during their career?

Publisher. A publisher is responsible for overseeing the complete operation of a newspaper, from the daily content, advertising, human resources, and every other aspect. Like a principal heading up a school, the buck stops at the publisher’s desk. In many communities, especially small towns, a newspaper publisher is regarded as a community leader.

Advantages. As described above, a publisher has the final say in determining matters that include a newspaper’s editorial content, appearance, and long-term direction. Publishers also take on the role of administrators.

Disadvantages. Publishers are removed the daily routine of the newsroom and the excitement of covering breaking news. Like the principal who misses teaching, publishers are still involved in the news business but may find themselves yearning to be back on the frontlines.

Magazine Writer. Working for a magazine offers greater opportunities to cover major celebrities, world leaders, and travel to locations others often only read about. Magazine writers also do not have to endure the same pressures of daily deadlines that newspaper journalists experience.

Advantages: Magazine writers get to write stories that are more in-depth and analyze issues, and often travel the world.

Disadvantages: Articles written for magazines may be seen by a greater audience, but journalists also lose the satisfaction of writing about events in a city for residents of that community. Also, while the possibility of travel may appeal to some, others may consider it a minus.

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