ARTICLE: Working in news media often spills over to family life, and vice versa

Picture: untitled by Paweł Czerwiński, license CC0 1.0

Work-life balance is a difficult one to handle in a newsroom job. A new study seeked to find out perceptions, strategies and advice from newsrooms workers.

“Every respondent reported some degree of difficulty while attempting to balance the nontraditional schedules and long hours inherent in the news industry along with caring for families and self-wellbeing”, the results reveal.

Irene Snyder, Kirsten Johnson and Michele Lee Kozimor-King, all of Elizabethtown College, United States, conducted 50 interviews (and a 12-item questionnaire) with people in 10 different news organizations.

These included small and medium market TV stations (e.g. KCAU, NBC12 and WNBC), regional newspapers (e.g. Lancaster Newspapers) and national news organizations (e.g. The New York Times, CNN, FOX). Interviewees included reporters, anchors, photographers, news directors, meteorologists, managing editors, producers, technical directors, and graphic designers.

Both negative and positive spillover

The attempts to balance work and family often results in ‘spillover’. This can be both negative or positive, and working in two different directions: either work-to-family, or family-to-work spillover.

Of the 50 interviewees, men experienced more negative work-family spillover (63 comments) than women (52 comments). Women experienced more positive-work-to-family and family-to-work spillover than men. These instances include sharing stories with family, nontraditional schedules, and families being supportive of the respondent.

People working in both print and TV newsrooms stated that digital technology makes it harder to to balance work and family life, though print newsworkers felt this impact more strongly.

Those who worked over 60 hours per week had the most difficulty separating the two aspects. However, people working under 35 hours (many of them freelancers) had more negative work-family spillover than those working 50-59 hours per week.

Suggestions for employers and young journalists

Suggestions for organizational change were rare; balancing work and other aspects of life were seen as personal responsibility. Some suggested that employers should help by setting boundaries between the two. Many saw this kind of boundary-setting impossible in the hectic work life of the news industry.

Respondents did give some advice for those considering a career in media. These included having awareness of the job’s demands and ensuring they have a passion for this work.


The article “Work–life balance in media newsrooms” was published in Journalism and is available on the publisher’s website (free abstract).

Picture: untitled by Paweł Czerwiński, license CC0 1.0

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