By: Mark Fitzgerald
Budget cuts, financial and home pressures ? even pagination ?
are burning out newspaper editors, according to new APME study sp.
THE NINETIES ARE doing a number on newsroom managers, according to a new study by Associated Press Managing Editors.
Today’s editors and managing editors are drinking and smoking less and trying to stay in some reasonable shape.
Yet, on the job and at home, they report more stress than ever.
Nearly half, 47%, say their jobs are not just stressful ? they are “highly stressful.” About four in 10 have had a health problem they blame on stress.
Nearly one in five ? in a group with a median age of 45 ? suffer from hypertension.
One big reason there is more on-the-job stress is that editors nowadays are on the job all the time: Fully 42% of respondents to the APME study say they work at least six days a week. Six percent work every day of the week.
In fact, the median work week for responding editors is 52 hours long.
Only 14% work a 40-hour week.
And during those long hours, editors told the APME survey, events seem to conspire to ratchet up the stress levels.
Compared to a similar study APME conducted in 1983, newsroom editors these days say they feel less control over their work.
In 1995, for instance, fully 66% of responding editors said their news hole was reduced in the past year. Half reported losing news staffers who were not replaced. Nearly three-quarters, 73%, agreed with the statement, “It’s difficult to stay on top of all my responsibilities as an editor.”
Eighty percent reported that, “there is more work than I can complete in a normal day.”
At the same time, the survey reveals that the editors take the newspaper’s credibility and integrity very seriously ? in fact, they take it personally.
By substantial majorities, the editors complained that they were bogged down with paperwork, administrative tasks and deadline pressures that all too frequently prevent them from taking the longer view of their editorial responsibilities.
New technology isn’t helping, the editors say: For instance, 67% of those who implemented pagination in the past year say it increased their stress level.
These pressures continue at home, as more editors must cope with raising children with a working spouse. Nearly half, 49%, say “I am not able to be ‘there’ for my spouse/family/friends as often as I should be because of my job.” In 1983, only 38% agreed with that statement.
Twelve years ago, only 2% of editors reported that “I feel nothing matters in life besides my job.” Fully 10% said they feel that way in 1995.
However, the newsroom is not breaking marriages apart, the survey shows. Only about 7% said that conflicts between their personal and professional lives were a major cause of stress. One other hopeful sign is that editors are kicking their bad habits. The number of smokers has declined from 15% in 1983 to 8% now. And just 9% reported drinking more alcohol as a stress-reduction strategy. In 1983, 15% drank more to relieve stress.
Editors these days, it seems, simply want some peace and quiet: Asked to name their least important personal value or goal, the largest percentage, 18%, chose “an exciting life.”
The APME survey was mailed to about 2,300 daily newspaper editors and had a response of 578, or about 25%.
The survey was developed and compiled by Bardsley & Neidhart Inc., a Portland, Ore., market research organization.
The typical respondent to the survey is a male college graduate, aged 45 and still married to his first wife with children young enough to be at home. He is a managing editor or editor with 12 years of supervisory experience and five years at his present job. He earns almost $55,000, works 52 hours each week at the office and another 5 hours at home. He works on a newspaper with less than a 25,000 circulation.