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    ‘Sheer volume of unsettling news is overwhelming’: How newsrooms protect journalists and audiences

    Stabbing attacks, protests against gendered violence, and the conclusion of one of the most-watched defamation cases in the country – the last fortnight has been especially gruelling for those working in newsrooms.

    Mediaweek spoke with Luke Davis, content manager of 2GB; Phoebe Saintilan-Stocks, founder of Missing Perspectives; and a Network 10 spokesperson representing their newsroom about how they look after their team and readers when you can’t look away. But firstly, how are they doing?

    “I’m going okay, thank you for asking. It’s difficult not to be affected in some way by these news events, but I’ve taken great pride in the way that our 2GB team has covered the stories and kept our city informed and comforted,” Davis said.

    Saintilan-Stocks added: “It’s obviously been a huge few weeks for the news industry, but I’m going OK. I am good at picking up red flags for burnout, so I was sure to take time off last week and rest on the weekends.”

    Looking after journalists in a major news week

    2GB’s Davis mentioned the business’ employee assistance program, and said that in the days following the Bondi Junction attack, a consultant from the EAP was on-site, “available for a chat with anyone who felt affected.”

    “We’re also conscious that many of our broadcasters and news, program, social and traffic team members work in high-pressure, fast-paced environments almost every day – so the ‘come down’ after a major news week may take some time,” he added.

    “Some may not realise they’ve been affected until some days/weeks/longer after the event. That’s why we’re focussed on regular check-ins and making our staff fully aware of what support is available to them at any time.

    “Our 2GB Weekends broadcaster, Luke Grant, was one of those who sought support – and he shared his experience with our Converge consultant on air.”

    Media start-up Missing Perspectives’ mission is to “challenge the underrepresentation of young women in news worldwide.” Reporting on women takes it toll, but founder Saintilan-Stocks said the team is big on “enforcing work/life balance”, even when it’s difficult.

    “We are constantly checking in on each other’s well-being, and are mindful in sharing the load – particularly in heavy news weeks like the last fortnight.

    “Reporting on issues facing young women can obviously be heavy and come with its own challenges – but our team is great at knowing when they need a breather or a few days off to reset, and there’s no shame in putting up your hand for some time out and rest.”

    Network 10 has a health, safety and wellbeing manager on staff who is also a qualified psychologist. A spokesperson added that management “regularly checks in with newsroom staff during and after every major news event, communicates details of how to access the company’s wellbeing resources, and stresses the availability of health professionals and managers to all staff who need support.

    “We offer bespoke sessions with a psychologist for all newsroom staff following significant events and provide an employee assistance program to all staff.”

    Encouraging audiences to consume news responsibly

    “When events like these happen, we’re particularly focussed on providing detailed (and importantly, accurate) information to our listeners – so that they’re fully briefed,” Davis explained. “We’re careful with our words, careful with our information and careful to deliver it in a way that will not panic or frighten.

    “As part of our coverage, we also aim to gear our listeners with ways they can personally process the events. In the past week, we’ve shared details of support services available to the public, information about where people can gather and grieve, interviews with psychologists about how to manage mental health, and how to protect children from seeing disturbing images online. We’ve also led a campaign to drive blood donations, which has seen a healthy uplift of donations and community support.

    “While 2GB comprehensively covers the difficult news stories, it’s also a great honour to share the many stories of bravery, hope and optimism. If there can possibly be a silver lining to these tragic events, it’s that they have brought out some of the best of humanity in our city.

    “Importantly, the beauty of Talk Radio is that we provide a platform for our city to simply talk about the news, to express their views, concerns, fears and hopes. That, in itself, is healthy and therapeutic.”

    10’s approach is to provide “factual journalism”, offer warnings for distressing content, and turn off social media comments on confronting stories. “We also blur or edit around distressing content, as per our responsibilities to the public.”

    Saintilan-Stocks acknowledged that “the sheer volume of really unsettling news the last few weeks can be really overwhelming and impact mental health.”

    “I think it’s all about letting audiences and consumers know that it’s OK to take a break from the news and have a breather,” she said.

    “Trigger warnings are also really important from the newsroom side. As a newsroom we make a conscious effort to also make sure we publish positive stories each week, to help with the balance.”

    The post ‘Sheer volume of unsettling news is overwhelming’: How newsrooms protect journalists and audiences appeared first on Mediaweek.

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