20200
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20100
R  E
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2020
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7

We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

“Our devices, digital platforms, and technological advances have amplified and evolved our ‘always on’ culture to one that is ‘extremely online’ — and it’s taking a toll.”

2020 will be the news cycle to end all news cycles. And while the presidential election looms large for most of us, it won’t eclipse or replace the everyday coverage our newsrooms are committed to. We’re in the business of expecting the unexpected — the inevitable tragedy of mass shootings, natural disasters and, for those of us in California, wildfires, power shutoffs, and earthquakes.

2020 is going to be rough. The wall that we all will hit eventually sits steadfast in the distance, and there’s no knocking it down — there’s no silver bulldozer. What we can do is take this moment as an opportunity to evaluate the newsroom cultures we’ve upheld, attempt positive change, and break some bad habits.

Journalism is an industry that values hard work; being “always on” isn’t a new concept for most of us. But our devices, digital platforms, and technological advances have amplified and evolved our “always on” culture to one that is “extremely online” — and it’s taking a toll. The mechanisms around digital news are changing constantly, and with that, so do the jobs, responsibilities, and viability of someone in a newer, less traditional role in the newsroom. Think about how defined the role of a “reporter” or “editor” can be compared to a “digital producer,” “news apps developer,” or “audience specialist.”

As a woman and/or a journalist of color working in one of these newer positions, on a more uncharted path, the ambiguity can mean a lack of support, and our industry-wide shortfall in diversity and inclusion can lead to a stressful level of loneliness. Not to mention, the diversity work to address these issues is being done outside of most people’s tangible responsibilities and often goes unacknowledged.

So, I want to focus on one thing we can all do for ourselves in 2020: Take 👏 breaks 👏. And if you’re in a position of power, model and facilitate the taking of breaks.

Managers: Going into the new year, we must be intentional about building and nurturing a culture that signals to the newsroom that it’s okay to take breaks. In order to contend with the pace — and trauma — of everything we’re reporting, we will need to find our journalists the space and time to cope.

At KQED, this means having conversations now about how we can start building for the fall crescendo. I’m looking at moving reviews earlier so that they don’t occur during peak election and wildfire seasons. I go on vacation and crow about the benefits of taking time off. I tell my team I want to see more paid time-off requests in my inbox. Across the newsroom, we have — and prompt — open discussions about self-care, our interests outside of work and the best hacks for unplugging.

The biggest, most intentional break I’ve started to take in my new role at KQED is self-imposed media blackouts, a short period of time with a clear start and end. And depending on what your vice apps are, if you just can’t delete ’em, turn off the notifications during this stretch. For me, it’s Slack, email, and Twitter.

Colleagues, peers, and teammates: Check in on each other. Find or create safe spaces where you can have candid and sincere discussions. Take those breaks! Leave the office — ask one another to lunch, coffee, or a walk. Use those vacation days! Whether or not you go on a trip, a mental and physical break from work is healthy and rejuvenating.

Let’s be honest: We’re terrible at taking vacations. On top of that, our concept of time is broken and our keyboards are disgusting. So while we’ve been planning coverage and staffing up for 2020, there’s another dimension to our strategies that will be more important than ever as the new year ramps up: our health, both mental and physical.

This prediction isn’t about emerging tech or a new trend. It just speaks to the oldest, most crucial tool we need to do journalism (🚨 earnesty alert): the journalists themselves. Let’s take better care of the people who do the work.

Julia B. Chan is managing editor of digital at KQED News in San Francisco.

2020 will be the news cycle to end all news cycles. And while the presidential election looms large for most of us, it won’t eclipse or replace the everyday coverage our newsrooms are committed to. We’re in the business of expecting the unexpected — the inevitable tragedy of mass shootings, natural disasters and, for those of us in California, wildfires, power shutoffs, and earthquakes.

2020 is going to be rough. The wall that we all will hit eventually sits steadfast in the distance, and there’s no knocking it down — there’s no silver bulldozer. What we can do is take this moment as an opportunity to evaluate the newsroom cultures we’ve upheld, attempt positive change, and break some bad habits.

Journalism is an industry that values hard work; being “always on” isn’t a new concept for most of us. But our devices, digital platforms, and technological advances have amplified and evolved our “always on” culture to one that is “extremely online” — and it’s taking a toll. The mechanisms around digital news are changing constantly, and with that, so do the jobs, responsibilities, and viability of someone in a newer, less traditional role in the newsroom. Think about how defined the role of a “reporter” or “editor” can be compared to a “digital producer,” “news apps developer,” or “audience specialist.”

As a woman and/or a journalist of color working in one of these newer positions, on a more uncharted path, the ambiguity can mean a lack of support, and our industry-wide shortfall in diversity and inclusion can lead to a stressful level of loneliness. Not to mention, the diversity work to address these issues is being done outside of most people’s tangible responsibilities and often goes unacknowledged.

So, I want to focus on one thing we can all do for ourselves in 2020: Take 👏 breaks 👏. And if you’re in a position of power, model and facilitate the taking of breaks.

Managers: Going into the new year, we must be intentional about building and nurturing a culture that signals to the newsroom that it’s okay to take breaks. In order to contend with the pace — and trauma — of everything we’re reporting, we will need to find our journalists the space and time to cope.

At KQED, this means having conversations now about how we can start building for the fall crescendo. I’m looking at moving reviews earlier so that they don’t occur during peak election and wildfire seasons. I go on vacation and crow about the benefits of taking time off. I tell my team I want to see more paid time-off requests in my inbox. Across the newsroom, we have — and prompt — open discussions about self-care, our interests outside of work and the best hacks for unplugging.

The biggest, most intentional break I’ve started to take in my new role at KQED is self-imposed media blackouts, a short period of time with a clear start and end. And depending on what your vice apps are, if you just can’t delete ’em, turn off the notifications during this stretch. For me, it’s Slack, email, and Twitter.

Colleagues, peers, and teammates: Check in on each other. Find or create safe spaces where you can have candid and sincere discussions. Take those breaks! Leave the office — ask one another to lunch, coffee, or a walk. Use those vacation days! Whether or not you go on a trip, a mental and physical break from work is healthy and rejuvenating.

Let’s be honest: We’re terrible at taking vacations. On top of that, our concept of time is broken and our keyboards are disgusting. So while we’ve been planning coverage and staffing up for 2020, there’s another dimension to our strategies that will be more important than ever as the new year ramps up: our health, both mental and physical.

This prediction isn’t about emerging tech or a new trend. It just speaks to the oldest, most crucial tool we need to do journalism (🚨 earnesty alert): the journalists themselves. Let’s take better care of the people who do the work.

Julia B. Chan is managing editor of digital at KQED News in San Francisco.

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