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.

Kristen Muller

John Davidow

Mario García

James Green

Larry Ryckman

Chase Davis

Stefanie Murray

Tony Baranowski

Candace Amos

S. Mitra Kalita

Jody Brannon

Gonzalo del Peon

Whitney Phillips

Matt DeRienzo

Chicas Poderosas

Jesse Holcomb

Brian Moritz

Shalabh Upadhyay

Kendra Pierre-Louis

David Skok

Ståle Grut

Tom Trewinnard

Christoph Mergerson

Mike Rispoli

Parker Molloy

Joanne McNeil

Doris Truong

Joni Deutsch

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Francesco Zaffarano

Mary Walter-Brown

Julia Munslow

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Cherian George

Millie Tran

Anthony Nadler

Natalia Viana

Matthew Pressman

Izabella Kaminska

Sam Guzik

Cristina Tardáguila

Jonas Kaiser

Joe Amditis

Victor Pickard

Richard Tofel

Christina Shih

Megan McCarthy

Janelle Salanga

Gordon Crovitz

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Meena Thiruvengadam

An Xiao Mina

Ariel Zirulnick

Zizi Papacharissi

Sarah Stonbely

Jim Friedlich

Daniel Eilemberg

Eric Nuzum

Don Day

Catalina Albeanu

Jennifer Brandel

j. Siguru Wahutu

Robert Hernandez

David Cohn

Simon Allison

Raney Aronson-Rath

Cindy Royal

Wilson Liévano

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Mandy Jenkins

Paul Cheung

Kerri Hoffman

Anita Varma

Anika Anand

Jessica Clark

Juleyka Lantigua

Joy Mayer

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Alice Antheaume

Burt Herman

Errin Haines

Gabe Schneider

Matt Karolian

Julia Angwin

Sarah Marshall

Jennifer Coogan

Michael W. Wagner

Tamar Charney

A.J. Bauer

Stephen Fowler

Moreno Cruz Osório

Nikki Usher

Andrew Freedman

Amara Aguilar

Simon Galperin

Rachel Glickhouse

Joshua P. Darr

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Melody Kramer

Kristen Jeffers