We acknowledge cohort burnout

“We often talk with newsroom leaders who feel compelled to accept every invitation to participate in a program because they don’t want to miss an opportunity.”

While the last decade has presented no shortage of demoralizing challenges for the journalism sector, it’s also been a time of explosive growth in tools and support services aimed at solving the problems of 21st-century newsrooms.

Just look at the fast-growing independent digital news space alone: There are dozens of impressive associations, accelerators, labs, projects, institutes, centers, collaboratives, and hubs, all dedicated to helping news organizations sustain themselves. Add to that an astonishing number of technology tools and platforms — from CMS and ESP to CRM and SMS and beyond — and news outlets are faced with a dizzying array of solutions to problems they might not even know they have.

The problem isn’t whether opportunities exist for fledgling news organizations. It’s deciding which ones are the right fit at the right time. Cohort overload — and the burnout it causes — has newsroom staffers spinning in so many different directions they struggle to focus on the fundamental work they need to do at their stage of organizational evolution. A cohort experience that is meant to propel a newsroom forward can oftentimes end up setting them back.

At the News Revenue Hub, we often talk with newsroom leaders who feel compelled to accept every invitation to participate in a program because they don’t want to miss an opportunity, whether that’s the potential funding that might go along with it or the chance to work with the talented subject matter experts who lead these efforts. The problem is, how do newsrooms know when they’ve done enough? Outlets can’t drink from the firehose forever — or they risk losing sight of their mission.

We are fortunate to have arrived at a point where the journalism sector has so many organizations dedicated to supporting it. Now it’s time to join forces to make sure that support is coordinated and deployed in meaningful and useful ways.

Funders and support providers, let’s spend time in 2022 mapping out what services exist, what gaps remain, and how we can work together to make sure newsrooms have access to tools and support that accelerate their growth but also foster long-term success and stability. Without this, we just might all burn out.

Mary Walter-Brown is the founder and CEO of the News Revenue Hub.

While the last decade has presented no shortage of demoralizing challenges for the journalism sector, it’s also been a time of explosive growth in tools and support services aimed at solving the problems of 21st-century newsrooms.

Just look at the fast-growing independent digital news space alone: There are dozens of impressive associations, accelerators, labs, projects, institutes, centers, collaboratives, and hubs, all dedicated to helping news organizations sustain themselves. Add to that an astonishing number of technology tools and platforms — from CMS and ESP to CRM and SMS and beyond — and news outlets are faced with a dizzying array of solutions to problems they might not even know they have.

The problem isn’t whether opportunities exist for fledgling news organizations. It’s deciding which ones are the right fit at the right time. Cohort overload — and the burnout it causes — has newsroom staffers spinning in so many different directions they struggle to focus on the fundamental work they need to do at their stage of organizational evolution. A cohort experience that is meant to propel a newsroom forward can oftentimes end up setting them back.

At the News Revenue Hub, we often talk with newsroom leaders who feel compelled to accept every invitation to participate in a program because they don’t want to miss an opportunity, whether that’s the potential funding that might go along with it or the chance to work with the talented subject matter experts who lead these efforts. The problem is, how do newsrooms know when they’ve done enough? Outlets can’t drink from the firehose forever — or they risk losing sight of their mission.

We are fortunate to have arrived at a point where the journalism sector has so many organizations dedicated to supporting it. Now it’s time to join forces to make sure that support is coordinated and deployed in meaningful and useful ways.

Funders and support providers, let’s spend time in 2022 mapping out what services exist, what gaps remain, and how we can work together to make sure newsrooms have access to tools and support that accelerate their growth but also foster long-term success and stability. Without this, we just might all burn out.

Mary Walter-Brown is the founder and CEO of the News Revenue Hub.

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