SPJ Florida board member Lulu Ramadan took part in a candid and needed panel discussion on journalism and stress management at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Orlando from June 14 to 17.
The panel, called “Under pressure: Coping with stress, and knowing you’re not alone,” featured three journalists in different stages of their careers with advice collected from several talented reporters and editors in the business.
Ramadan, a 23-year-old reporter at The Palm Beach Post who has covered three mass shootings, brought the perspective of a cub journalist trying to make an impression while covering taxing subjects. Moderator Ken Armstrong, a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior reporter at ProPublica, shared insight on the stress facing veteran reporters – like the threat of being sued, subpoenaed or set up. Panelist Mike Hixenbaugh, an investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle and father of three, spoke of the importance of a healthy work-life balance even in the most trying of times, like when he covered Hurricane Harvey’s destruction in Texas while also caring for his family during the disaster.
“It’s widely recognized that journalism is one of the most stressful industries,” Ramadan said. “Yet, journalists are hesitant to have frank conversations about workplace stress to avoid being labeled as ‘weak.’ We need to talk more about the pressures of the job so we can deal with them head-on and avoid burning out.”
After asking more than a dozen in the industry how they handle stress, the panelists compiled a list with tips. The tip sheet can be found on the IRE website.