THE NOT-SO GLAMOROUS LIFE OF A JOURNALIST
Media professionals face ongoing adversities and ethical dilemmas throughout their careers. They may be a result of one’s race, gender or personal beliefs. As a young woman beginning her career in the media, journalism, and communication field, I have outlined the three most relevant adversities or problems that I will face during my career; women working in media, stress trauma and burnout, and finally, journalism and media ethics.
WOMEN IN MEDIA
Male dominance, unfavorable workplace environments, sexual attacks, intimidation, and physical violence are among the main reasons why many women in the media quit their jobs. The 2016 Women in Media report states that, “Almost half (48%) of women said that they’d experienced intimidation, abuse, or sexual harassment in the workplace and 41% said that they’d been harassed, bullied, or trolled on social media, while engaging with audiences; several were silenced or changed career.” A recent example of this is the 2015, “F*** her right in the p****” sexual attacks on female reporters (Watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpbkcMSlCgw). The scandal involves people screaming a particularly sexist, obscene phrase at reporters during live hits, originating after a fake episode went viral in January 2014. This scandal is representative of how typical it is for females in this industry to be confronted by sexual attacks and slurs. In a 2015 episode of Media Watch, multiple women from the CBC network spoke out about their experiences of sexual attacks in the field. Jelena Adzic, reporter, writer, and radio columnist, explained, “There has never been a time when obscenity shouting has not been part of my career in the field.” While co-worker Natalie Kalata opened up about a sexual attack that occurred in the field in which a group of men cat-called her before going live, “they started cat-calling and one man in particular started to get very personal…he said ‘Hey you, nice a**, I want to f*** you in the a**, you’ve never had it so good. He went on for quite some time. At first I made a joke of it, but it just kept going and going and going…” until she finally broke down in tears. It is absolutely appalling that, as a woman entering into this field, my female co-workers and myself are expected to ‘brush off’ these obscene sexual attacks. It is also alarming that we not only have to expect sexual attacks from outside of the workplace, but male dominance and sexism from within the workplace.
“There has never been a time when obscenity shouting has not been part of my career in the field.” - Jelena Adzic
In a 2015 interview with The Lavin Agency, Robyn Doolittle, investigative reporter from The Globe and Mail, spoke out about the double standards that she suffers as a female journalist. Doolittle explained that traits that are valued in men are seen as negative in women. When herself and ale reporter Kevin Donovan reported on the Rob Ford crack-cocaine she received a large amount of backlash and hate mail on social media, which Doolittle responded to in the interview with, “No-one said to Kevin, ‘oh he’s so ambitious, look at him trying to social climb through this, he is exploiting this poor man for his game… I was doing the exact same thing as the man, but for some reason I am overly ambitious and aggressive?” (Watch the full video below or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pdy63ta2hE). While it is disheartening that females within the field have to struggle through these adversities, I believe that with personal resilience, raising awareness, and gaining assistance from organizations such as Women in Media and the Women's Media Centre (You can find both of their links below) myself and my future female counterparts will be able to make sexism, male dominance and sexual attacks a thing of the past for the females within the media, communication, and journalism industry.
STRESS, TRAUMA AND BURNOUT
Burnout is defined as the mental and physical exhaustion that one experiences when the demands of work consistently exceeds the amount of the energy one has available. Burnout has been labeled as the 21st century’s epidemic of the modern workplace. The constant pressure of deadlines, low pay rates, and high expectations can cause media professionals to suffer from high levels of stress, trauma, and burnouts. Volume 3, issue 2 of Burnout Research
outlines that “Journalists most at risk of burnout are females who are younger, with fewer years of journalism experience, working in small circulation newspapers,” this information is alarming to myself and other young women entering into the media, journalism and communication industry whom gain their foothold in the field through small circulation newspaper and magazine companies, which is presumably where my career will begin. On top of this, the undergoing cost cutting within media organizations is also a major contributor to journalist burnout; “This frequently means reduced staff size and therefore increased workload, as well as long and irregular hours for journalists. Unfortunately this change has also been associated with reduced income for journalists despite the greater workload and responsibilities,” (Radio-Television News Directors Association, 2009). Media professionals are thrust into a profession of constant competitiveness, resource constraints and challenging deadlines, resulting in poor work/life balance, the inability to perform basic self-care and maintain healthy relationships, diets, and lifestyles. These problems further exacerbate the psychological implications of their work (Maskaly, 2008). As a young female beginning my career in the journalism, media, communication field, this information has made me aware of the high levels of stress that I will need to endure in the field. In order to avoid burnouts I have looked to the advic3 of social psychologist and author of No One Understand You and What to do About it, Heidi Grant Halvorson to find the 3 most relevant methods to avoid burnouts
1) Focus on Meaning
- It is important to focus on why the work matters to you, which can be done by connecting a current assignment with a larger personal goal. For example, this assignment may lead to a promotion or further opportunity within the office. Halvorson, explains that by focusing on meaning it will “…help you fight the temptation to slack off and will provide a jolt of energy that will give you what you need to barrel through that day or the next couple of days.
2) Make Time for Yourself
- Halvorson explains, “Burnout often stems from assuming that we need to work harder or outwork others, which may get you short-term results, but is physiologically unsustainable.” In order to overcome this and perform at your peak, you need regular “opportunities for restocking your mental energy.” In a world where we are so dependent on our electronic devices, sometimes we can forget the life that we have without them. Allocate an hour or two per day to switch off your smartphone or other electronic devices and make time for yourself. This could be as simple as going for a walk or having your lunch away from your desk.
3) Find a Passion
- “What you do with your downtime matters,” says Halvorson. Studies have shown that engaging in an activity that you find interesting, regardless of how taxing the activity may be, and is better for you than just relaxing. While it may be appealing to lay on the couch or moss in your bed in your downtime, it is recommended that you engage in something more challenging, for example playing crossword of drawing. The more engaging the activity, the more energy you will attain and in turn, avoid burning out.
JOURNALISM AND MEDIA ETHICS
Without Journalism and Media Codes of Conduct or Ethics put in place (You can find their link below), there would be little-to-no personal privacy, high levels of exploitation, and false information broadcasted on an international level. There are over 400 codes of conduct around the world covering aspects of journalism – some very short, some very lengthy – but all are focused on 5 key values;
While it is challenging to guarantee ‘truth,’ it is cardinal principle of journalism to get the facts right. Journalists should strive for relevancy, accuracy, and aim to corroborate all information.
Journalists should work as independent voices; they should not work, informally or formally, as a representative or spokesperson on behalf of a company or organization. Journalists should declare to both their editors and audiences any affiliations or arrangement’s that might constitute a conflict of interest.
Every story has two sides – while it is not integral to present every side of ever piece – publications should be as balance as possible. However, Objectivity is not always possible or desirable (for example, in the face of brutality or inhumanity) but should be used as often as possible in order to build rapport and trust with audiences.
Journalism should never cause harm to a person, place, organization, or event. While some content that is published may be hurtful, we should be aware and accountable for the impacts of our choice of words and images.
As prior mentioned, it is integral for journalists to hold themselves accountable for anything that they say, do, and publish. Journalists must listen to the concerns of their audiences, correct errors and ensure that ll expressions of regret are sincere.
It is integral to apply these legal and social frameworks to my own career in order to put myself in a position that provides leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression. As mentioned in my professional biography, I am aim to be a catalyst for positive change, therefore by following this framework I can be an example to other young journalists beginning their careers in the industry.
WHO IS ASHLEIGH HOLLAND?
I am a catalyst for positive change and innovation for the next generation of leaders and communicators. As a determined young woman, I am able to diligently network and collaborate with others on both a professional and personal platform to achieve a high-quality end result. I have a drive and ambition to work in major communication fields such as marketing and public relations. In 2016 I participated in the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program, a professional public speaking program for the leaders of tomorrow. This program gave me the foundation skills and finer points essential to structuring effective communication. As an outcome of my success in this course, I achieved the award for, Best Public Speaker and Best Impromptu Speaker. In conjunction with this, I have an extensive history and passion for the performing arts. I have been involved in multiple high-school productions, worked as a junior member of Brisbane’s, Shake and Stir Theatre Company, as well as hosting the 2014 and 2015 senior graduation evenings for Lourdes Hill College.
Following this, I worked as a Careers Advisor and Sales Representative for Workforce Solutions as well as a consultant for Premium Private Wealth. During my time in these roles I have gained a strong understanding for professional communication, the ability to work with clients to gain an understanding of their needs and deliver successful outcomes, as well as being able to process large amounts of information within a limited time frame. I strongly believe in working ‘for the customer’ and as a result of this I thrive in a face-to-face or over-the-phone working environment in which I can create a personalised experience for each client.
I have a deeply-rooted passion to assist people which can be traced back throughout my extensive volunteering history. I have volunteered and promoted for service groups such as Amnesty International, St Vincent De Paul, and Surf Life Saving Queensland. Along with this I have assisted with educating special needs students at Mater Dei, Camden.
These experiences have given me an insight into real-world issues which has helped to establish a foundation from which to promote innovative change for the next generation. In a world that currently informs millennials ‘What the Kardashian’s ate for Breakfast,’ many young people are ill-informed about the happenings of their wider community. As the next generation of world leaders and influencers I believe that it is vital to be informed about the important issues that are affecting us now and into the future. I want to be able to use my platform to deliver factual, truthful, and current world-issues to the palm of my peers’ hands. I aim to use my influence to uplift the leaders of tomorrow by delivering them the news that affects them today.
"I am a catalyst for positive change and innovation for the next generation of leaders and communicators"