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In an age of 24-hour news and deadlines around the clock, it is not surprising that burnout is becoming commonplace in the newsroom.

Despite this, some newsrooms still have an outdated approach, believing that it is just part of the job and that journalists should soldier through it.

Zuzanna Ziomecka, editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, and founder of now-ceased project NewsMavens, explained in a podcast with why such a practice no longer works in today's media landscape.

"What’s happened to the news industry, as it’s moved away from paper and tried to embrace digital, is that the base of the workflow has fallen out of place" she explained, adding that the lack of routine in journalism, coupled with the constant demand for content, means the news industry has created conditions "ripe for burnout".

Ziomecka cited Christina Maslach, co-author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and said there are six different components that can contribute to burnout; excessive workload, a lacking a sense of control, a low sense of reward, isolation from community, perceived unfair treatment and misalignment of values between the individual and organisation.

With this in mind, there are a variety of 'red flags' to which can be useful early warning signs.

Some of these include regular absences from work and increased sickness due to lowered immunity. When present, employees might repeatedly make simple mistakes and a lack personal responsibility for their actions.

They might also have a hard time gauging the severity of situations, showing apathy in the face of serious issues and reacting hysterically at less important matters.

But burnout goes even further than this. It can have an impact on both a person's ability to perform and how the brain functions, similar to that of people suffering from trauma.

The part of the brain responsible for responding to threats and stress is enlarged in people suffering from chronic stress. Alarmingly for journalists, the part responsible for cognitive functioning, including communication and memory, shrinks.

"For anybody who’s in a high pressure environment with a really dynamic set of goals and a changing news cycle, this is basically the end of your ability to perform," she explained.

Ziomecka indicated that younger people and those without children are most likely to suffer from burnout, due to expectations of a new job not being met, not having emotional fulfilment and a social life realised at their workplace.

Importantly, burnout should be seen more as a result of poor management, rather than an employee problem. Editors, who in particular have large amounts of pressure on their shoulders, should receive support and leadership that fits the challenges of the modern newsroom. 

To do this, Ziomecka explained news organisations need to meet the same standards of other similar industries by providing support from coaches.

"This is absolutely standard in business, in technology and finance that these people get support. They have somebody to talk to, they have somebody to vent to and somebody who will help them maximise the potential they have for the good for their team."

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