I was talking with a friend who's not a broadcaster this week, and she reacted with surprise when I told her how stressful the news business is day in and day out. Of course she knew big events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters would be stressful, but she didn't realize that crises are being covered by broadcasters and print journalists around the world 24/7.
As novelist, Michael Connelly, says of police work, "Every case is a battle in a war that never ends." Crises can happen every day and they present circumstances that you can't change. The hurricane will hit, wars will happen, terrorists do exist in the world. And even routine stories hold the potential to become stories that haunt you with their graphic details. What can you do? Well you can’t change the event, but you can change the way that you deal with the event.
In order to continue to cover these crises both big and small, you have to realize that this business is a marathon and not a sprint. Even in a major catastrophe, you have to take care of yourself to avoid burnout. I often tell clients that you have to stay in training to do this job well. Just like an athlete, you have to think about all the ways that you can stay healthy and emotionally balanced like eating well, getting enough sleep and finding time to relax. These things aren't luxuries for you. They're necessities if you want to sound and look like a professional in the stress-filled world of international journalism.
If you read this blog often, you’ll find that coping with stress is a passion of mine. I’ve seen too many broadcasters burn out and leave the business or, even worse, become sick because they allowed stress to get the best of them. That’s always sad to watch. But you can take some steps today to reduce your stress.
To learn more, here is an article I wrote on handling crisis stress.
Utterback is a Broadcast Voice Specialist and Stress Reduction Counselor with more than 40 years of experience. She has worked with anchors and reporters around the world and is the author of eight books. Her BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK is used in newsrooms and classrooms throughout the United States. Read more about Dr. Utterback at www.UtterbackPublishing.com and on her website for podcasters, www.OnlineVoiceCoaching.com. You can also follow @AnnUtterback on Twitter.