5 Major Reasons Why So Many
People In Local News Are Unhappy

5 Major Reasons Why
So Many People In Local
News Are Unhappy

Written by Lois Lane
🕒 December 18, 2018

Those of us who work in local news know that some days can be extremely stressful.

That stress could also be one of the reasons why so many people I know are leaving the industry. While seeing this trend happening all around me, I decided to take a closer look by asking many of you to weigh in on your overall happiness with working in TV news.

More than 100 journalists (105 to be exact) responded to a recent survey on this website. Some shared stories about their happiness, while others shared their concerns about the dark side of local news.

The talented, hard-working men and women who answered my survey are anchors, reporters, and MMJ’s. Some are only a couple of years into the game, while others have more than 10 years experience, yet most of the responses had a few things in common when it came to their unhappiness in the newsroom.

So let’s breakdown the results:

1. The Workload/Demand of The Job

According to the survey, 57 people said the workload/demand of the job contributes to their unhappiness.

“If TV keeps cutting positions and expecting one person to do the job of three, then no,” said a weekend anchor/MMJ, when asked if they saw themselves working in TV news 10 years from now. I can attest to this.

Chances are you’re bogged down with work because your station is understaffed, which means your day could consist of you doing the absolute MOST as an MMJ with very little pay or consideration that you’re only one person.

“The workload is too much and employees are treated poorly by management and viewers,” said another weekend anchor/MMJ, who’s been in the industry for five years.

Maybe your producers, or managers, expect so much out of you that you can’t handle it. Yes, our job requires that we work with a sense of urgency because deadlines are important, but it’s also important for management, and producers, to avoid taking advantage of you.

When it comes to a heavy workload, I would suggest speaking up. If there’s a producer who’s asking too much from you say something to them about it, or, if that doesn’t work, go directly to your news director.

If all else fails, and the demand from your station is still too high, I suggest doing your best to get the work done until a better job offer comes along. Then, once you’ve moved on, use this website to submit an anonymous review about your experience. Seriously.

Reviewing a station won’t undo what you went though, but it could save someone else from experiencing the exact same thing.

2. A Toxic News Director

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Out of 105 submissions, 33 journalists say their news director is toxic. While I’m fortunate to have a great news director, there are others that do not.

“Every newsroom I have experienced has had awful management. I am sure they are not all like that, but it is discouraging when so many are,” said one MMJ, who also ranked their happiness with working in TV News as a five out of 10 due to toxic news directors, low salaries and negative work environments.

It all starts at the top. We have to have good leadership in the newsroom. No one deserves to work under a news director that creates a toxic work environment, gossips along with newsroom staff or plays favorites.

If your current news director is toxic, my heart goes out to you. Unfortunately, in our business, news directors can seem “untouchable”, especially when it comes to complaining about a bad one. HR isn’t always your friend, and can seem as though they’re “taking management’s side” in most cases.

So what should you do if you find yourself working for a toxic news director? I suggest you keep your head down, and work as hard as you can to move on to a station with better management.

If you’re currently looking for a new job, don’t forget to check to see if the stations you’re applying to have been reviewed or not. Reading what past and current employees have to say about a news station is extremely important, because it can give you an idea of what you’re getting into before you sign any contract.

3. An Unorganized Work Environment

More than half of the journalists who took the survey, 56 to be exact, say they’re swimming in an unorganized work environment. When asked if they could see themselves working in this business 10 years from now, one MMJ, with six months experience, wrote, “I’m not too happy in my starter market—the atmosphere is toxic & there’s no communication.”

I say this all the time, “COMMUNICATION IS KEY.” We work in the communication field, so it’s obviously important. Everything from a proactive assignment editor, to a creative and quick thinking producer counts.

Whether you’re a reporter, anchor, producer or photographer keeping an open line of communication with others in the newsroom is crucial.

4. A Negative Work Environment

Fifty-four journalists say they’re trapped in a negative work environment. This could mean several things. One MMJ wrote, “Managers speak ill about reporters to other reporters & there’s an overall lack of respect.”

Maybe there is a web of gossip, or simply other employees that don’t seem to care about the station’s product. TEAMWORK IS IMPORTANT.

Let’s all get on one page. I remember a while back while doing live shots one of my producer’s reeked miseries in my ear for cues. That energy, believe it or not, is not good for others around you.

If one person is negative, or airs his or her negativity out, it travels making everyone else miserable.

5. An Incredibly Low Salary

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While only 105 people answered this survey, there could obviously be many more of you who are dissatisfied with your yearly salary.

That being said, 65 of you say your yearly salary is a HUGE factor in your unhappiness, and I’m pretty sure you raised your hand high while reading this part.

“The pay is no where near worth the stress, terrible schedule, no holidays, negative feedback and reactions from viewers,” wrote one Reporter/MMJ who’s been working in the industry for three and a half years.

It’s truly sad that this industry pays so little to people who serve communities across America.

In fact, if you’re an MMJ—someone who films, writes, and edits their own stories, rather than having the luxury of a photographer—I get it, you should be paid more. I know the struggle because I have been in that boat for 6 years.

In smaller markets some days can be extremely difficult, because not only do you have to do everything to make your story come together, you’re probably also expected to shoot your own live shot.

Overall, less than 2% of those who took the survey rated their overall happiness working in local news as a 10 out of 10, and nearly 23% rated their happiness as an eight.

There is so much work to be done if this industry wants to survive, and it doesn’t involve meeting breaking news deadlines. It starts with cherishing the worth of employees everywhere in this industry.

What I want to say to all of you who aren’t happy is, keep your head up and use discernment when it comes to making decisions going forward. Your happiness is worth so much! You deserve so much! Ask yourself, “How long you have been unhappy? Do you think it will get better?”

Reflect and never belittle your worth. ❤️

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