Combatting Stress in the Newsroom
Written by Nolan Ryan
The staff of The Collegian have plenty of opportunities to let stress get the better of them. The editors in particular have to assign stories to reporters, keep in contact with them, edit the pieces, and fit them into a newspaper each week. How do they avoid burnout in such a busy, fast-paced environment?
Senior Jo Kroeker and junior Jordyn Pair both emphasize the need for interaction within their community of editors. Specifically, Jo says the editors have to be friends with one another outside of the journalism office in order to maintain a tight-knit community that supports one another inside the office.
Every Wednesday, the staff editors gather in the Collegian office to finish editing and finalize the newspaper’s layout. The combination of late-night work and running up against a hard deadline makes the perfect recipe for stress running rampant.
“Journalism creates a pattern that is not conducive to good work,” Jo said. “I think stress is when you have all these things you can’t really control, or you feel like you’re doing so many things at once, and you’re spread out really thin. Stress is when you don’t know how to rein all of that in.”
Jordyn, who usually arrives in the office around four in the afternoon on Wednesdays and doesn’t leave until midnight, says one of the most stressful aspects of the job for her is not hearing back from reporters during the week. Though she tries to plan effectively in order to stop stress before it begins, it’s those things an editor doesn’t have under his or her control that can make journalism difficult.
This is where camaraderie comes in to help counteract the temptation to worry about the impending deadline. Throughout the night, whenever a funny story or quote pops up, it gets written on the quote wall. Also, John Miller, director of the Dow Journalism program, always comes into the office to check on the paper’s progress, and he comes bearing snacks—a welcome sight for students swimming in articles. It gives everyone a much-needed boost into their long night.
I talked with Jo at length concerning stress at Hillsdale, specifically for journalism students, but also for students in general. We decided that, a lot of times, organization is key to avoiding stress in the first place.
“Stress is lack of action,” Jo said. “Set goals and stick to them. You’re constantly in fight or flight mode. That’s bad. You can’t treat your entire life like something you’re trying to protect yourself from. We’re here to thrive; we’re not here just to survive.”
Nolan Ryan, ‘20, is an English major and journalism minor from the frigid heart of northern Michigan. If you want to have a long conversation about life and theology, just start by mentioning C.S. Lewis or Emily Dickinson. In the midst of his studies, he occasionally finds time to pursue his love of ’50s music and good coffee.
Published in November 2017