With the increased usage of digital technology in the news media industry, journalists are now required to produce news segments on multiple platforms. Print and television news reporters often post on social media and create other online content in addition to creating their television segment or print article (Friedman, 2014). They also work irregular hours, such as late nights and early morning shifts (Tuggle, Carr, and Huffman, 2014). This constant digital connectedness and hectic schedule impacts their ability to balance work and life demands.
In the book Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family (2015) Anne Marie Slaughter interviewed working mothers attempting to balance work and family life. She spoke with Rebecca Hughes Parker, who had previously worked as an award-winning broadcast news journalist in New York. Parker requested a more flexible schedule in order to allot time for her toddler; however, the news organization refused to adjust her hours accordingly. This strenuous work schedule caused Parker to quit her job at the station and to begin editing for a legal publication. Slaughter wrote that the feminist vision of “having it all,” which she had always advocated for, was in actuality, somewhat impossible to fully attain, especially for mothers with children (Slaughter, 2015). Similarly, in a question and answer session, Elizabeth Vargas, who is the co-anchor of ABC’s “20/20,” discussed both the positive and negative aspects of a career in the news media. She stated that her job is exciting, and allows her to experience new things each day. However, the hectic nature of the field also led her to have much anxiety. She stated that she once had a panic attack while live on television, and drank alcohol as a means of destressing from the job (Saraceno, 2017).
Netemeyer et al. (1996), stated that an individual’s ability to balance work and home life relates to his/her job characteristics, including the degree of flexibility and support which the job provides. However, certain organizational settings, particularly newsrooms, are unlikely to offer such flexibility or family support. According to a Poynter online survey, 65% of respondents in the news industry worked more than 40 hours per week, and 47% considered leaving the journalism profession (Geisler, 2005). In addition, the incorporation of digital technology in the workplace can affect employee interactions with the family while at home (Friedman, 2014). Through the usage of cell phones, email, and social media, many workers stay connected with their job at all times (Tahmincioglu, 2011). In media newsrooms, this digital connectedness has helped employees to connect/interact with their audiences. However, it has also led to higher expectations for work productivity, and decreased employees’ abilities to balance the two roles. There were four goals for this research: (1) to examine perceptions of work-life balance among news media professionals; (2) analyze what strategies those in the media field use to balance work and life; (3) compare success of work-life balance across media platforms and market sizes; and (4) identify themes in career advice and suggestions for organizational change.
Previous research has examined work-life balance and strategies employees utilize to manage the often conflicting roles (Duncan & Pettigrew, 2012; Pederson & Minnotte, 2015; Offer, 2014). The term work-life balance refers to an individual’s ability to fulfill role obligations in both the work and home environment. Work-life balance encompasses work-family balance as well as personal lifestyle balance, including the employee’s ability balance work obligations with health and leisure time. This study will be focused mainly on work-family balance, which is a “global assessment that work and family resources are sufficient to meet work and family demands such that participation is effective in both domains” (Voyandoff, 2005, p. 825).
Employees’ attempts to balance work and family demands can often result in work-family spillover. Work-family spillover “…refers to the consequences of intersecting work and family experiences” (Sweet, 2014, p.47). There are two possible outcomes of spillover, positive or negative, as well as two different directions, work-to-family spillover or family-to-work spillover (Sweet, 2014). Work-to-family spillover occurs when the effects of work intrude on family life, whereas family-to-work spillover is the impact of family life on one’s job. Positive work-to-family spillover can occur when a positive work experience helps to increase the employee’s mood, thereby enhancing their emotions and experiences with family members at home (Culbertson, Mills, and Fullagar, 2012). This concept of positive work-to-family spillover can increase job satisfaction, while also leading to better emotional and physical well-being both in the workplace and at home. However, according to Sweet (2014), negative work-family spillover can have negative implications for employees, such as limiting their ability to spend time with family, care for children, exercise regularly, and obtain a healthy amount of sleep.
Work-Life Balance and Sex
Although the effects of work-family spillover can apply to both males and females, women predominately experience higher levels of role conflict between their work and personal lives. Gassman-Pines (2013) found that women face more difficulty balancing work and family, due to a traditional work division between males and females. Although many women are employed in the paid workforce, they generally work more hours in domestic labor than men (Hill et al., 2001). Andreassen, Hetland, and Pallesen (2012) found that women felt more in control of their work and family lives when their partners assumed some of the household responsibilities, and they were also supported in childcare endeavors.
Work-Life Balance and Family Structure
The term “family” does not solely refer to couples with children; however, Gassman-Pines (2013) concluded that for men and women, work and mental strain were most prominent among working parents with children, due to parental concerns and demanding schedules. A study conducted by Andreassen et al. (2012) found that respondents with no children experienced less negative family-to-work spillover than those with children. Similarly, couples without children experienced less negative work-to-family spillover than those with children.
Work-Life Balance and Job Characteristics
The conflicting schedules and demands of both work and family life often lead to negative spillover; however, the extent to which these competing roles influence one another can vary based on certain aspects of an individual’s job. Hill et al. (2001) found that those with greater flexibility in their schedules were better able to balance work and family demands. In addition, Stevens et al. (2006b) found that longer and more rigid hours decreased an individuals’ ability to fulfill their roles in both a work and home environment. Furthermore, the type of organizational environment impacts the level of negative work-to-family spillover for employees. Stevens et al. (2006b) found that a supportive workplace culture is able to lessen the degree of negative work-family spillover experienced by dual earner couples. Such environments can lead to fewer turnovers in the organization, while simultaneously promoting the physical and mental well-being of employees (Hammer et al., 2011).
Work-Life Balance and Media Newsrooms
Flexible work schedules are less likely to be offered in a hectic work environment, such as media newsrooms. Journalists are often forced to work weekends as well as holidays (Tuggle, Carr, and Huffman, 2014), and there is a large demand for more flexibility and less work pressure (Paulussen, 2012). According to Tuggle, Carr, and Huffman (2014) some news managers do not believe young journalists “…have the right to even ask about work-life balance” (p. 267). Individuals with children may intentionally work early morning hours or night shifts in order to balance their work-family lives (“Work and Play,” 2006), however, this constantly changing work schedule has negative implications for their family life and personal wellbeing.
Paulussen (2012) found that there were high “burn out” rates among journalists. They reported a high level of satisfaction with their work, but an overall low satisfaction with their ability to balance work and family demands (Geisler, 2005). Moreover, Reinardy (2011) found that women journalists have more role overload than men. In his study, 67% of women respondents stated they intended to leave the field, whereas only 55% of the men respondents planned to pursue another job. The women who planned to leave the field also reported exhaustion and low levels of professional development. They also did not feel supported by their coworkers or supervisors (Reinardy, 2011).
Moreover, Himmelstein and Faithorn (2002) found that journalists often require coping mechanisms as a result of covering tragic events. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and The New York Times offer in-house programs to help journalists cope with their stress (Himmelstein and Faithorn, 2002). In 1995 The New York Times launched a psychological intervention program, through which they had three staff counselors train their supervisors to help the employees. Himmelstein and Faithorn (2002) stated that BBC employees took advantage of the organizational benefits, however, those employed at The New York Times did not. This work-related stress may lead to negative work-family spillover, as an employees’ attitude when arriving home from work impacts his/her spouse and children (Lawson et al., 2014).
Another factor influencing work-family spillover and role burnout in the news environment has been the incorporation of digital technology. Smartphones, social media, and other online media platforms have changed work expectations in journalism, especially in print media newsrooms (Robinson, 2011). Newspaper reporters are now required to produce video segments, write blogs, and post on social media in addition to writing their print articles. Online editors tell the reporters to “think digitally” and produce print segments that can also be incorporated into a video. Robinson (2011) stated that reporters often feel threatened by such organizational change, as managers have altered their “print mentality.” Moreover, Higgins-Dobney and Sussman (2013) concluded that the addition of digital technology adds stressors to those working in the news media industry.
Journalists working in both print and television news are required to report on multiple platforms. Those working in print often have difficulty adjusting to the technology, and broadcast journalists must now become familiar with web style writing. The reporters felt obligated to remain connected to this technology at all times, and quite frequently tweeted and blogged from home. In this way, “…the public and private lives of employees blended, the public and private realms of new production/consumption lost distinction” (Robinson, 2011, p. 1136). Singer (2011) also found that this element of multitasking and quickly producing a variety of content also has negative implications for the overall news product.
Although previous research has examined work-life balance in print news media, there has been very limited research conducted in the television news industry. This research will add to the literature by examining work-life balance among those employed in television and print newsrooms, and will also compare across media platforms. The results of this study will be useful for those considering a career in media newsrooms, as well as for those currently employed in the field, as it involves identifying creative solutions and making suggestions for organizational change. This will be accomplished through identifying themes in career advice offered by the media professionals interviewed.
There are four research hypotheses for this study. The hypotheses will be tested using both quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Hypothesis 1: Women employed in the news industry will report being more successful
at balancing work and life and will report having more negative work-family
spillover than men employed in the news industry.
Rationale: According to Reinardy (2011) women journalists report having more difficulty balancing work and family demands than men. Duncan and Pettigrew (2012) stated that women are more likely than men to make accommodations in order to balance work and family life. This often involves eliminating pleasurable and leisure activities from their schedules.
Hypothesis 2: Those who work fewer hours will report being more successful at balancing work
and life than those who work more hours.
Rationale: Stevens et al. (2006b) stated that long and irregular hours decreased an individual’s ability to balance work and life. Hill et al. (2001) also found that flexible hours can aid employees in balancing work and family demands.
Hypothesis 3: Individuals without children will report being more successful at balancing work
and life than those with children.
Rationale: Andreassen et al. (2012) concluded that those with children experienced more work-family conflict than those without children. Also, the National Survey for Midlife Development (MIDUS) found that individuals with children experienced more family-to-work conflict than those with no children under the age of 18.
Hypothesis 4: Individuals working at a print publication will report being more successful
balancing work and life than those employed at a television news station.
Rationale: According to Tuggle, Carr, and Huffman (2014) television news reporters are required to work weekends, holidays, and overnight shifts. They also stated that beginning television journalists are not expected to have work-life balance.
The data for this research were obtained through a 12-item questionnaire and series of semi-structured face-to-face in-depth interviews with individuals employed in television and print media newsrooms. This included reporters, anchors, photographers, news directors, meteorologists, managing editors, producers, technical directors, and graphic designers. In-depth interviews were chosen for this research because they allow participants to “…tell their stories and discuss their involvement in detail” (Dupagne and Garrison, p. 244). These interviews lasted approximately 20-30 minutes and were conducted through a two-step process. First, the respondent was given a brief 12-item questionnaire asking for demographical information (see Appendix A). If the respondent was willing, the first set of interview questions was video recorded. If the participant did not want to be video recorded, this same set of questions was asked off-camera, but audio-recorded. Only one respondent refused to be video recorded. Finally, another set of more field specific questions will be asked off-camera, but the responses will be audio recorded.
After receiving Institutional Review Board approval for the project, 30 in-depth interviews were completed with individuals currently employed at newsrooms of varying market sizes including: KCAU (Sioux City, IA), WHTM (Harrisburg, PA), WGAL (Lancaster County, PA), NY1 (News York, NY), WNBC (New York, NY), CNN, Lancaster Newspapers (Lancaster County, PA), The York Daily Record (York, PA), The Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA), The New York Times (New York, NY), and Yahoo (New York, NY). These interviews were obtained through convenience and snowball sampling. The last interview question asks the respondent if there are other individuals currently employed in media newsrooms who they could recommend to be interviewed for the project.
In regard to demographics of the sample, half of the respondents had children and half did not have children. The majority (80%) of respondents were employed in a medium size market, and 17% were employed in a large market. The majority (67%) of respondents were employed at a television news station, whereas 33% were employed at a print publication. Most respondents (40%) indicated that they worked between 50 to 59 hours per week, 30% stated that they worked between 41 to 49 hours per week, and 30% indicated that they worked between 31 to 40 hours per week. One person (3% of the sample) indicated that he/she worked over 60 hours in a given week. The majority (40%) of respondents worked the dayside shift and 20% worked the morning shift. The ages varied among respondents with 17% in the 18-24 age category, 17% in the 30 to 34 age category, and 17% in the 50 to 54 age category. Each respondent was given an ID number at the time they were contacted through email (i.e., 001, 002, 003). Not all interviewees responded to the solicitation email and participated in an interview, therefore, not all numbers are represented in the final sample.
The dependent variable for this research was perceived success of work-life balance, which includes work-family spillover. Perceived success of work-life balance was operationalized using the following question from the 12-item questionnaire:
On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent, how successful do you feel in balancing your current work and life?
- 1 (Poor)
- 2 (Fair)
- 3 (Good)
- 4 (Very good)
- 5 (Excellent)
Work-family spillover was operationalized using the following four interview
- Are there times when your family positively influences your work? Can you give me a specific example?
- Are there times when your work positively influences your family life? Can you give me a specific example?
- Are there times when work negatively impacts your family? Can you give me a specific example
- Are there times when family negatively impacts your work? Can you give me a specific example?
The first independent variable for this research was sex, which was operationalized using a question from the 12-item questionnaire.
The second independent variable for this research was hours worked, which was operationalized using the following question from the 12-item questionnaire:
- How many hours do you work in a given week for your current employer?
The third independent variable for this research was presence of children. This was
operationalized using the following question from the 12-item questionnaire:
- Do you have children? If so, how many do you have? What are the ages of your children?
The fourth independent variable for this research was type of news organization. Each news organization was coded for type of news organization, either television, print, or radio. This information was obtained by visiting the organization’s location. For example, WNBC is a television media outlet and The New York Times is a print media outlet.
In order to satisfy all four goals of this project, both qualitative and quantitative analysis were used. The quantitative analysis focused on the 12-item questionnaire analyzing demographics and perceived ability to balance work and life. The second step to analyzing the data involved transcribing the interviews verbatim. It took approximately two hours to transcribe a 30-minute interview. During transcription and at the conclusion of transcriptions, open coding was conducted using thematic analysis through the Dedoose Software Program. According to Waller, Farquaharson, and Dempsey (2016), “in a thematic or discourse analysis it is through the process of grouping data under similar codes, gradually refining those codes to a manageable and illuminating set, that you will move towards answering your research questions” (p. 165). This involved reading through all transcriptions, writing extensive notes, labeling comments, and looking for themes. This included themes pertaining to strategies the respondents utilize to balance work and life, career advice, suggestions for organizational change, and size of the news organization.
The size of the news organization was determined using the 2015-2016 TV Job’s Nielsen Media Local Market Estimates. In television news, the market sizes range from one to 210. For example, WGAL and WHTM are both in the same medium sized market, which is number 44 in the Nielson rankings. In comparison, the stations located in New York City are in the number one television market nationwide (Nielsen, n.d.). The size of the print media outlets was determined based on the newspaper’s circulation size.
Negative Work-Family Spillover
The mean of the respondent’s perceived success balancing work and family life was 3.3, indicating that they felt “good” about their ability to balance the two roles. The majority of work-family spillover experienced by individuals employed within the news industry was negative. Interestingly, men reported experiencing more negative work-family spillover than women. Examples of negative work-family spillover included nontraditional schedules and not spending time with family. Respondent 024 stated that he works a nontraditional schedule:
“We have a lot of family functions every year whether it's family reunions or simple things like Christmas parties, and when you work weekends you are limited in how many of those you can attend.”
In addition, 011 stated:
“Sometimes your work has to take priority over family things. So you may miss family events.”
In regard to giving up pleasurable activities, 010 stated:
“I recently started coaching for high school and during the summer they practiced at a later time. So it's something I really enjoy doing but I can't necessarily do it all the time because they practice from 6 to 8:30 at night. Like I said, my bedtime, if I want to get seven hours, is going to bed at 7 PM.”
Those with children experienced more negative work-to-family spillover and family-to-work spillover than those without children. However, there was substantially less family-to-work spillover than work-to-family spillover. Most respondents indicated that their family never negatively impacts their work. Of those who did believe their family negatively influenced their family life, the most common example given was that children took time away from work. For example, 015 stated:
“I won’t call them a burden because they’re a joy, but I do not have the same number of hours that I used to have.”
Positive Work-Family Spillover
Despite the examples given of negative spillover, there were also several positive aspects individuals discussed about working in both print and television news. Those with children reported having more positive family-to-work and work-to-family spillover than those without children. Women also reported having more positive family-to-work and work-to-family spillover than men. One example of positive family-to-work spillover, it that many respondents stated their family members contributed to their news stories. For example, respondent 022 stated:
“I do a lot of design work and I often bounce design ideas off my wife. I will design something and say you know ‘what do you think about this?’”
Similarly, 025 stated that family members have positively influenced their family life by contributing to news stories:
“[family members have] called in with a news tip. Hey something's going on here or when they’ve been out and about take a picture for us of an accident or something.”
Others stated that having children gives them perspective for writing news stories. For example, 015 stated:
“Having children definitely affects the way you see the world because you can understand some people. When you're a reporter that doesn’t have a family/children there are things you don't understand. I will give you the example of on 9/11, I had no children and I was assigned to go to a school on the upper west side of Manhattan, and I found these parents who had run all the way from Wall Street, which is several miles in Manhattan in the middle of this chaos and crisis. And I remember our editor coming over and saying to me that you missed the emotion of what they were doing, all they wanted to do was touch their children. I had to think it through that point and to think about the emotion. So I do think that is an element that is underappreciated is the amount to which having family actually increases in emotional quota to a large degree.”
Interestingly, the most common example given for positive work-to-family spillover was the nontraditional schedules. Even though this was cited as a problem for many employees in the news media, other respondents indicated that the nontraditional schedules benefited their home life. For example, respondent 033 stated:
“I feel like my hours benefit me because this is the time I prefer to work anyway at night, I’m kind of a night owl. As long as I make the most of it, and as long as I have that inner motor to get up and do the things I want to during the day, I get the best of both.”
Another commonly cited theme was that family members enjoy reading or watching the respondent’s work. For example, respondent 015 stated:
“I think that my boys get excited about my stories, they get excited about my work they go to school and say my mother’s on the front page today.”
Many respondents also indicated that they felt better connected to the community because they worked in news, and were thereby able to share knowledge with their family members. For example, respondent 022 stated:
“Especially here working at the newspaper I feel very engaged so informed about local issues and talk about those issues with my family with my friends.”
Ability to separate
Many respondents indicated that they were able to separate the two roles of work and family life while employed in the news industry. For example, respondent 025 stated:
“98 percent of the time I refuse to watch newscasts before I come in from my shift. During the day and on the weekends I don't watch the news, I just don't do it because that's work and I don't care about work right now.”
Similarly, respondent 018 stated:
“When I’m not working here I like just, put it out of my mind and try to enjoy whatever it is I'm doing. I don't have a problem with leaving things at the office.”
However, most respondents indicated that they had difficulty separating the two roles of work and home life. Specifically, those who worked 50 to 59 hours had the most difficulty separating work and family life. For example, respondent 022 stated:
“There's a lot of emotional baggage that comes along with working long hours and being stressed out over certain projects that you're working on. And you tend to carry that kind of thing home with you.”
This is especially difficult when covering emotional stories. For example, respondent 010
“There are weeks when we have a lot of tragic news that you just can't get away from it.”
Others discussed the impact that nontraditional schedules have on their ability to separate. For example, respondent 084 stated:
“The way my schedule is set up because I am the morning reporter my Sunday really doesn't exist because I need to be thinking about bedtime at 4 o clock. So although I have an early Friday and early weekend it's not the ideal time off.”
Overall, those working at print news organizations had more difficulty separating work and
family life than those who worked at a television news station. For example respondent 020 stated:
“Because the news is 24 seven and because there are potential issues and things to deal with all the time it is as though it can never be turned off. So, I feel like I have probably become less adept at balancing both.”
Impact of digital technology
The difficulty employees faced in separating work and life when employed at a print publication was often considered to be a result of digital technology usage in the newsroom. For example, several print journalists stated that digital technology extends the news cycle. For example, respondent 021 stated:
“I think for newspapers it's been particularly disruptive just because all of a sudden we are on the 24 hour work news cycle. It used to be you print once and that was it. So I think that we have a better idea now of what it's like to be at it all day long.”
In addition, 020 stated:
“I found the technology that we have today that’s supposed to be making our lives easier has probably only served to extend my workday and to make things a little bit more complicated for me.”
Overall, in both print and television newsrooms, the most common response regarding digital technology was the constant connectedness which it has instilled in employees’ lives. For example, respondent 084 stated:
“It's hard to be disconnected ever, I mean like on vacation. It’s not like I’m gonna turn off all my push alerts when I'm on vacation, I can put my phone down and walk away from it, but I'm always looped into it. The digital technology is still hard to get away from, and I don't necessarily ever want to be away from it.”
This constant connectedness can also lead to more negative spillover and blur the roles between work and family life. For example, respondent 012 stated:
“It takes away from that one on one interaction with your family. So I think technology is great but I think it also creates an imbalance at home, especially in the news industry where you have to have your phone, you have to have a computer with you.”
Despite the negative aspects of digital technology, several respondents discussed the positive impact it has on those employed in the news industry. For example, some stated that it helps them stay connected with others employed in the field. For example, respondent 084 stated:
“I can look up any other journalist in the country and see what they're up to and see how they present themselves and how they carry themselves, and that's helpful.”
In addition, 015 stated:
“…for the most part I would say it's good because it means I don't ever worry that if I’m not at my email is someone trying to reach me. So I can interview a source on the road, there’s just so much more that I can do from the road or from home or at any hour.”
Most respondents felt supported by their coworkers, however, there were mixed responses in regard to supervisors. For example, 012 stated:
“We hang out a lot outside of work, we support each other because we get it. We all work crazy hours, we've all covered sad stories, happy stories.”
Several individuals had positive experiences with their employers. For example, 084 stated:
“…everyone has an open-door policy that that makes me feel good. When I come home I feel like I've gotten the best shot of anyone else to talk to a supervisor.”
However, some individuals described their supervisors as being unsupportive. For example, respondent 024 stated:
“So many people want to be on television that it’s like if you don't do the job we’ll find somebody else that can do it.”
There were also mixed responses in regard to the news media’s degree of flexibility. For example, 033 stated:
“They’re extremely flexible as long as it goes both ways, as long as I'm willing to be flexible when they need me than everyone else is going be flexible as well.”
In addition, respondent 017 stated:
“The time here is very flexible. There's been plenty of times I needed to adjust my hours forward or back to make it to like appointments or to the airport when I'm going somewhere or something like that and that’s never a problem.”
Other respondents felt that the ability to work at home offered them a greater degree of flexibility. Respondent 015 stated:
“There is flexibility in the hours and where you have to be physically.”
However, others stated that the news industry was in fact the opposite of flexible. For example, respondent 084 stated:
“I always say the morning shift is the one shift that you’re woken up to go to work, and that I'm woken up at 1:30am sometimes and it's ‘get to work.’ It's not ‘we need you to come in early,’ it’s ‘right now.’”
Strategies for balancing in the news industry
Respondents listed several strategies which aided them in better balance their work and family lives. The most common strategy cited was organization. This was especially important for those working nontraditional schedules. For example, 010 stated:
“We have our work schedules several months before the holidays, so I try really hard to coordinate with everybody and make sure that I can see everybody I want to see and accommodate the schedules.”
In addition, respondent 084, who works the early morning shift, stated:
“One of the strategies I use now is keeping a schedule, even though my schedule is unique in that I do need to go to bed at a certain time and I miss out on some nighttime activities.”
Another common strategy involved actively separating work from home life. For example, respondent 015 stated:
“I really try to remind myself to be to be intentional. This is my time with my children I'm going to enjoy this, and there will be time for work later.”
Other strategies included meditation, setting aside time for oneself, and learning to say no. For example, respondent 011 stated:
“You just have to be able to say no to the things you have to say no to. In the end, I believe your life is more important than your job, no doubt about it."
Why they remain in the news industry
Despite the challenges respondents mentioned in regard to balancing work and family life, most stated that they remained in the industry because they love the job. For example, respondent 012 stated:
“I enjoy telling great stories, I feel a sense of pride when I’m done with my day.”
In addition, respondent 011 stated:
“I love writing I love gathering news I love delivering news, I love the performance aspect of it. I love going out in the community.”
012 stated that in the news industry:
“You go into the fire, you go into the rallies, you go in and you tell stories, recapturing history and being a part of something that no one else can be a part of. And you’re the eye for somebody who can't be there. That’s what gets me up every day, being able to tell someone’s story, being able to be there for them as a visual medium, and it's very powerful thing.”
Another reason why individuals reported staying in the field amongst challenges, is because they stated the job brings something new and exciting everyday. For example, 084 stated:
“You're just on the front lines of so much good and bad stuff that sometimes when you come and you feel like you didn't have the big personal life experience of the day you packed so much into the workday when others are probably just sitting at a computer.”
Other respondents stated that they remain in the field because it’s what they know how to do. For example, 018 stated:
“It’s basically what I've always done, I decided early on that I enjoyed it and you know that still hasn't changed.”
The first hypothesis for this study, that women would report being less successful balancing work and life than men was not supported. Men reported experiencing more negative work-to-family and family-to-work spillover than females. This does not support previous literature by Gassman Pines (2013), who found that women have more difficulty balancing work and family life than men. However, women reported having more positive work-to-family spillover and family-to-work spillover than men.
The second hypothesis for this research, that those who worked more hours would report being less successful balancing work and life than those who worked more hours was partially supported. Those who worked between 50 to 59 hours had the most difficulty separating their work and home life. However, those who worked between 41 to 49 hours per week had more negative work-family spillover than those who worked 50 to 59 hours per week. Those who worked between 35 to 40 hours per week had the most positive work-family spillover. This partially supports previous literature by Stephens et al. (2006b), who found that those who work longer hours have more difficulty balancing work and family life.
The third hypothesis for this research, that those without children would report being more successful balancing work and life was supported. Those who had children reported having more difficulty separating the two roles of work and family life. They also reported more negative work-family spillover. This supports previous research by Andreassen et al. (2012) who found that couples without children had less negative work-family spillover.
The fourth hypothesis for this research, that those who are employed in television newsrooms will report being less successful balancing work and life than those in print newsrooms, was not supported. Those who worked in print news media stated that the incorporation of digital technology blurred the lines between work and home life, which made it more difficult to separate the two roles. Those working in print news media also stated that they’re constantly connected to digital technology, and that it serves to extend the news cycle. Although those working in television newsrooms also discussed the negative impact of digital technology, this response was much more common among those in print media newsrooms. Furthermore, many employed in print newsrooms stated that digital technology makes their jobs more stressful because they now need to become accustomed to operating this technology, such as video cameras and editing software, whereas those employed in television newsrooms did not have as much difficulty adjusting to an online digital media platform.
Suggestions for Newsroom Change
Some respondents offered suggestions for news media employers to help their employees better balance their work and home lives. This included allowing more opportunities for women, incorporating more traditional schedules, and establishing distinct boundaries between work and home life for employees.
In regard to the request for a more traditional schedule, 012 stated:
“If I had to pick one thing it would be to have off weekends and then being able to spend more time with family and friends who have a Monday through Friday schedule.”
In comparison, respondent 018 acknowledged that the job will continue having a nontraditional schedule, but he still suggested that employers set boundaries for their employees:
“If you’re going to keep from burning out your best people, is there some way to kind of reinforce a stricter dividing line? The news organizations can build in some kind of a more rigid old-fashioned respect of when someone's off-duty they’re off-duty. I know that's hard to do, because news breaks all the time.”
In addition, another respondent suggested that employers better consider the role of women within news organizations. For example 015 stated:
“There are women who for one reason or another either don't have children, are not in relationships or they have a spouse who stays at home fulltime. So this company has been very slow to be flexible, to allow flexibility for women and that has prevented them from getting women editors, as many women editors as they want.”
The majority of respondents stated that they couldn’t think of changes the employer could make to assist them in balancing work and life. Many stated that it was their own responsibility to balance the two roles, and hectic and nontraditional schedules were an essential part of the industry. They instead offered suggestions for those who are pursuing a career in the field. Many respondents stated that anyone pursuing the field needs to be educated about the costs and benefits. For example, respondent 010 stated:
“You need to know what you're getting yourself into you will have to work weekends you will have to work holidays, you will have to work on schedule.”
Similarly, 012 stated:
“It’s not going be a 9 to 5 holidays off type situation. Some people eventually get that and that’s great. But you have to understand you’re not going to be on the top right out the door. You gotta work your way up.”
Other respondents emphasized the importance for those in the news media to find a good spouse. For example, respondent 015 stated:
“I think it's really important to be with someone who supports what you are doing and is willing to make the sacrifices and to figure out what your sacrifices are going to be.”
Several respondents also stated that anyone working in the news media should have
passion for the job. For example, 010 stated:
“If your passion is greater than those negatives, it works.”
There were limitations to this research, including that only one individual was interviewed from a small market station. This may have impacted the results, as those at smaller stations are often younger individuals beginning in the industry. In addition, although several interviews were obtained from New York City and surrounding states, the majority of the interviews were from medium market stations in Pennsylvania. Future research should examine work-life balance in media newsrooms in other regions of the U.S. as well as in other countries to discern cultural workplace differences.
Despite the cited limitations, this exploratory study was the first scholarly article to specifically examine work-life balance within both print and television newsrooms. The results also contradicted much of the previous literature on work-life balance. This study added to the literature through providing analysis of in-depth face-to-face interviews with news media professionals, several of which were employed at large market print and television news organizations.
The long hours, nontraditional schedules, and incorporation of digital technology in the news media industry has influenced employees’ ability to balance their work and family lives. The results from this study indicate that those working in a print publication have more difficulty balancing work and life than those in television news because of the impact of digital technology. In addition, contrary to previous research, this study concluded that men employed in the news industry experience more work-family spillover than women. The men interviewed stated that they often miss family events due to work obligations. In addition, those with children had more difficulty balancing the two roles.
The majority of respondents did not offer suggestions for organizational change, but rather stated that it was their own responsibility to balance their work and home life. However, some did suggest that news media employers set boundaries between work and home, in order aid their employees in balancing the two roles. They stated that such change would prevent many employees from leaving the field. Those employed in the news media industry also made suggestions for those considering to pursue a career in the news media field, which included having an awareness of the job’s demands (i.e. long hours, nontraditional schedules etc.). The news media professionals also suggested that young journalists ensure they have a passion for the work. Several stated that the job is not solely about having one’s name in print or one’s face on television. The majority of respondents stated that the reason they remained in the field was because they are passionate about the work, and enjoy telling stories about the lives of others. They recommended that other young journalists consider all aspects of the job before pursuing a career in the news media industry.
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Work-Life Balance Questionnaire
1. What is your sex?
¨ Prefer not to answer
2. What’s the highest degree that you have attained?
¨ Some college credit, no degree
¨ Associates degree
¨ Bachelors degree
¨ Masters degree
¨ Doctorate (Ex: M.D, J.D., D.O, PhD.)
3. What is your current age?
4. What is your race? Mark one or more boxes.
¨ Black or African American
¨ American Indian or Alaska Native
¨ Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin
¨ Asian or Pacific Islander
¨ Some other race: ________
5. Do you have children? If so, how many do you have? What are the ages of your children?
6. What is your current marital status?
¨ Single, Never married
¨ Currently married
¨ Cohabiting, not married
7. Is your spouse or partner currently working? What does s/he do? How many hours a week does s/he typically work?
8. How long have you worked for your current employer?
9. How many hours do you work in a given week for your current employer?
10. What shift do you generally work?
¨ other (please list) ______
11. How long have you worked in the news media overall?
12. On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent, how successful do you feel in balancing your current work and life?
¨ 1 (Poor)
¨ 2 (Fair)
¨ 3 (Good)
¨ 4 (Very good)
¨ 5 (Excellent)
1. State your name and current position.
2. How successful do you feel in balancing your current work and life?
3. Can you explain why you stated (answer to previous question)?
4. Are there times when your family positively influences your work? Can you give me a specific example?
5. Are there times when your work positively influences your family life? Can you give me a specific example?
6. Are there times when work negatively impacts your family? Can you give me a specific example?
7. Are there times when family negatively impacts your work? Can you give me a specific example?
8. What strategies do you use to balance your work and family life?
9. What suggestions would you have for someone considering this field for work-life balance?
1. What are some of the challenges you face balancing work and family life?
2. Given the challenges you mentioned, why do you stay in this field?
3. What impact, if any, does digital technology have on your work-life balance?
4. Do you feel as though you have sufficient time away from your job/career to maintain your desired work and personal/family life balance?
5. Do you ever feel that you work too much?
6. How often do you work from home?
7. When you are at home, are you able to separate yourself from work and enjoy leisure time?
8. What impact do the characteristics of your job have on your work-life balance?
9. Are there company policies or resources to support your personal or family needs? If yes, which policies or resources have you used?
10. On a daily basis, who manages your family and household functions, i.e taking care of the children, household chores?
11. What could your current employer do differently to assist you in balancing your work and life?
12. Do I have your permission to contact you by e-mail with any additional questions?
13. Are there any other individuals in media newsrooms who you could recommend to be interviewed for this project?
[MOU1]Using both quantativie and qualitative analysis.