Let’s talk about what sustainability really means

“Sustainability is a kind of attention that’s only accessible when newsroom staff have time to think and explore, and to be closer to our communities, without feeling like this is time stolen from other deliverables.”

In the aftermath of newsroom work shifting from offices to homes, many journalists have felt the line between professional and personal life become more porous. For some, that’s presented an opportunity to prioritize storytelling at a time people needed journalism at its best.

For others, perhaps, burnout has crept in. Or being beholden to the news cycle no longer feels like the way forward. Or the tug-of-war between “journalism as a job” and “journalism as an identity” is reaching its highest tension yet.

As we check in with ourselves, our colleagues, and our organizations going into a new year, these thoughts can be opportunities for analyzing not just the output of our work, but also how we got here and how we can make the journalistic process the best version of itself it can be.

Prioritizing editorial efforts and products in a human-centered way — a goal many organizations set for themselves, especially those with a strong reader-revenue focus — means honest, powerful, and often difficult conversations with both staff and readers. And the context in which we now work to answer these questions requires a high degree of openness and trust.

Our conversations around sustainability can no longer be limited to the financial resilience of our media companies. Sustainability is also the care and attention we can give to our work when we are there fully. Sustainability is a kind of attention that’s only accessible when newsroom staffers have time to think and explore, and to be closer to our communities, without feeling like this is time stolen from other deliverables.

It produces work with impact that may not be immediately quantifiable, but which has a ripple effect in the long term on newsroom life and editorial work.

Before we strategize further or as we look again at the plans we’ve set out for the next year, there’s an opportunity to chart what we know and what we don’t know about how to best serve our communities. A complex discussion about what sustainability really means today, for media organizations and for journalists individually, is overdue.

Catalina Albeanu is digital editor at the Romanian news organization DoR.

In the aftermath of newsroom work shifting from offices to homes, many journalists have felt the line between professional and personal life become more porous. For some, that’s presented an opportunity to prioritize storytelling at a time people needed journalism at its best.

For others, perhaps, burnout has crept in. Or being beholden to the news cycle no longer feels like the way forward. Or the tug-of-war between “journalism as a job” and “journalism as an identity” is reaching its highest tension yet.

As we check in with ourselves, our colleagues, and our organizations going into a new year, these thoughts can be opportunities for analyzing not just the output of our work, but also how we got here and how we can make the journalistic process the best version of itself it can be.

Prioritizing editorial efforts and products in a human-centered way — a goal many organizations set for themselves, especially those with a strong reader-revenue focus — means honest, powerful, and often difficult conversations with both staff and readers. And the context in which we now work to answer these questions requires a high degree of openness and trust.

Our conversations around sustainability can no longer be limited to the financial resilience of our media companies. Sustainability is also the care and attention we can give to our work when we are there fully. Sustainability is a kind of attention that’s only accessible when newsroom staffers have time to think and explore, and to be closer to our communities, without feeling like this is time stolen from other deliverables.

It produces work with impact that may not be immediately quantifiable, but which has a ripple effect in the long term on newsroom life and editorial work.

Before we strategize further or as we look again at the plans we’ve set out for the next year, there’s an opportunity to chart what we know and what we don’t know about how to best serve our communities. A complex discussion about what sustainability really means today, for media organizations and for journalists individually, is overdue.

Catalina Albeanu is digital editor at the Romanian news organization DoR.

Victor Pickard

Gonzalo del Peon

Stefanie Murray

Francesco Zaffarano

S. Mitra Kalita

Jessica Clark

Parker Molloy

Chase Davis

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Zizi Papacharissi

Larry Ryckman

Tony Baranowski

Richard Tofel

Anika Anand

James Green

Izabella Kaminska

Cindy Royal

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Don Day

Simon Galperin

Janelle Salanga

Julia Munslow

David Cohn

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Jennifer Brandel

Daniel Eilemberg

David Skok

John Davidow

Burt Herman

Cristina Tardáguila

Raney Aronson-Rath

Sarah Stonbely

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Gordon Crovitz

Christoph Mergerson

Sam Guzik

Tom Trewinnard

Mike Rispoli

Paul Cheung

Mario García

Meena Thiruvengadam

Kristen Jeffers

Juleyka Lantigua

Brian Moritz

Alice Antheaume

Doris Truong

Nikki Usher

Eric Nuzum

Megan McCarthy

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Whitney Phillips

Catalina Albeanu

Matt DeRienzo

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Julia Angwin

Jennifer Coogan

Joshua P. Darr

Sarah Marshall

Millie Tran

Matthew Pressman

A.J. Bauer

j. Siguru Wahutu

Robert Hernandez

Candace Amos

Anthony Nadler

Ariel Zirulnick

Gabe Schneider

Kerri Hoffman

Melody Kramer

Errin Haines

Andrew Freedman

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Natalia Viana

Joy Mayer

Jody Brannon

Ståle Grut

Joanne McNeil

Kristen Muller

Christina Shih

Joni Deutsch

Moreno Cruz Osório

Rachel Glickhouse

Joe Amditis

Shalabh Upadhyay

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Jim Friedlich

Matt Karolian

Tamar Charney

Jonas Kaiser

Amara Aguilar

AX Mina

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Chicas Poderosas

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