It’s now or never to expand remote work in newsrooms

“This is the last chance to take what we’ve learned from the pandemic and implement long-term changes that can help these organizations become more inclusive and better places to work.”

2022 will be a make-or-break year for remote and flexible work in news, particularly in national and global newsrooms. This is the last chance to take what we’ve learned from the pandemic and implement long-term changes that can help these organizations become more inclusive and better places to work.

Next year, it seems likely newsrooms will finalize their plans for returning to office work. But it’s another question if news leaders will make the changes necessary to give their employees more flexibility in where and how they work — or if they’ll fall back into old habits and outdated management practices.

Even as many people continue to work from home, news organizations with correspondents around the country and the world still insist on hiring many positions to work out of offices, especially in New York and Washington. Bureaucracy and HR concerns are the likely culprits, but they’re also just excuses. After all, national news organizations like Vox Media, Forbes, and The 19th have figured out how to offer many fully remote positions.

There are valid reasons for news organizations to maintain the status quo. Newsrooms are great places for reporters and editors to collaborate. They offer opportunities for younger staffers to learn the trade, and they can be exciting, adrenaline-filled environments. But like offices in other industries, they won’t be the same after the pandemic, and they simply aren’t necessary for some kinds of jobs. Now’s the time to reimagine what newsrooms look like and make them better places to work.

Remote work can help chip away at some persistent problems in national media. More remote positions can allow for more desperately needed diverse hiring practices. Having staffers more widely dispersed throughout the country could improve how newsrooms think about and shape the news, and potentially cut down on parachute journalism. Hiring more remote workers could also push newsrooms to improve and formalize processes like mentorship and training.

That said, it’s not enough just to make certain positions remote-friendly and call it a day. In order to make remote work functional, newsrooms must actually enact policies for onboarding, stipends, mentorship, communication, and work culture, among other things. Also, establishing remote and flexible work policies must incorporate staff feedback.

All of this will take time and experimentation, and we should work together across the industry to share our knowledge as we figure out how to make this work. It will be worth it: Newsrooms that formalize meaningful remote and flexible work policies will likely become more competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

We’re now nearly two years into the pandemic; we have proof that news operations can function outside of offices. It’s past time for more newsrooms to come to terms with the future of remote work.

Rachel Glickhouse is a senior project manager at the (all-remote) News Revenue Hub.

2022 will be a make-or-break year for remote and flexible work in news, particularly in national and global newsrooms. This is the last chance to take what we’ve learned from the pandemic and implement long-term changes that can help these organizations become more inclusive and better places to work.

Next year, it seems likely newsrooms will finalize their plans for returning to office work. But it’s another question if news leaders will make the changes necessary to give their employees more flexibility in where and how they work — or if they’ll fall back into old habits and outdated management practices.

Even as many people continue to work from home, news organizations with correspondents around the country and the world still insist on hiring many positions to work out of offices, especially in New York and Washington. Bureaucracy and HR concerns are the likely culprits, but they’re also just excuses. After all, national news organizations like Vox Media, Forbes, and The 19th have figured out how to offer many fully remote positions.

There are valid reasons for news organizations to maintain the status quo. Newsrooms are great places for reporters and editors to collaborate. They offer opportunities for younger staffers to learn the trade, and they can be exciting, adrenaline-filled environments. But like offices in other industries, they won’t be the same after the pandemic, and they simply aren’t necessary for some kinds of jobs. Now’s the time to reimagine what newsrooms look like and make them better places to work.

Remote work can help chip away at some persistent problems in national media. More remote positions can allow for more desperately needed diverse hiring practices. Having staffers more widely dispersed throughout the country could improve how newsrooms think about and shape the news, and potentially cut down on parachute journalism. Hiring more remote workers could also push newsrooms to improve and formalize processes like mentorship and training.

That said, it’s not enough just to make certain positions remote-friendly and call it a day. In order to make remote work functional, newsrooms must actually enact policies for onboarding, stipends, mentorship, communication, and work culture, among other things. Also, establishing remote and flexible work policies must incorporate staff feedback.

All of this will take time and experimentation, and we should work together across the industry to share our knowledge as we figure out how to make this work. It will be worth it: Newsrooms that formalize meaningful remote and flexible work policies will likely become more competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

We’re now nearly two years into the pandemic; we have proof that news operations can function outside of offices. It’s past time for more newsrooms to come to terms with the future of remote work.

Rachel Glickhouse is a senior project manager at the (all-remote) News Revenue Hub.

Christoph Mergerson

Nikki Usher

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