Young journalists: Sleepless smokers in bad relationships

Findings by recent Ma’agar Mohot survey show little discussed risk factors in Journalism.

By JACOB BATIST
May 27, 2010 02:04
3 minute read.
newspapers assorted 248.88

newspapers assorted 248.88. (photo credit: )

 
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Nearly half of all young Israeli journalists get less than six hours of sleep a night, and many take up smoking after starting the profession, according to a recent survey by Ma’agar Mohot.

The survey, conducted May 6-10 among 401 respondents for the Haifa Communications Conference for Young Journalists, suggests the extent of the unhealthy lifestyles being maintained by young Israeli journalists today.

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According to the poll, 44 percent of journalists early in their career say that they sleep less than six hours nightly, falling below the medically suggested eight hours.

In addition, 13% of young radio hosts and of 5% of television reporters pick up smoking on the job, and a third of the journalists attribute strain in their personal relationships to their work.

“This is a significant issue that for various reasons has remained on the sidelines of professional discourse until now,” said Avi Paz, chairman of the Journalists Association in Tel Aviv. “The large amount of stress, the extraordinary exhaustion and the cumulative damage to the health and welfare of journalists – as indicated by the survey data – need to be recognized as risk factors, [and] action must be taken to reduce their impact.”

While the unhealthy lifestyles of young journalists can be credited to the stresses of breaking stories and deadlines, much of the contemporary pressure comes from the industry’s need to compete in the digital world.

According to a recent survey from the Washington-based Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “while most original reporting still comes from traditional journalists, technology makes it increasingly possible for the actions of citizens to influence a story’s total impact.”



Through the online platforms of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, both journalists and newspapers are feeling the heat.

For the third consecutive year, The New York Times Co., which publishes The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, has reported a decline in revenue – beyond its 17% drop from last year. As also evidenced in the revenues of publishers Media General Inc. and McClatchy Co. (which bought Knight Ridder in 2006), the US print newspaper market is slowly evaporating.

Scottish publications such as Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald have taken significant hits in sales as well, with The Scotsman dropping from a nearly-100,000 circulation to roughly 45,000.

And Australian newspapers such The Australian Financial Review, The Sun Herald and the Daily Telegraph have experienced drops in print media sales at a 3.1% average since the 2009 quarter.

“In 2010, we believe that we are entering a new information ecosystem and that we will have to focus on new key elements,” states Bertrand Pacquerie, director of the World Editors Forum – which will take place in Hamburg in October – in her online introduction to the conference.

It is no coincidence, then, that this year’s forum will focus on the rise of digital devices such as tablets, e-readers and smartphones, and the flow and navigation of digital information in the newsroom.

With the push for journalism to achieve greater integration into online publications, such as online-only news network Texas Tribune, it is the younger generation that will be taking the reins. Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics, for instance, has introduced a newly designed digital journalism summer program targeting high school students. The weeklong workshop is advertised as a program for “nosy” and “techy” youth to get a taste of journalism in the digital world.

As today’s youth get more and more tech-savvy and the journalism industry blends more and more with the digital world, perhaps the stress of journalists cannot be solely blamed on working conditions.

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