Welcome to API’s challenge series, Balancing Well-being. In this series, Sam Ragland, vice president of Journalism Programs, shares 20 ways to support the well-being of news teams. 

Why a 20-day, 20-action challenge? Because prioritizing the well-being of ourselves, our journalists, and by relation, our organizations takes deliberate steps toward healthy habits and self-awareness. photo of Sam Ragland

Healthy news organizations don’t happen overnight. It takes policy and infrastructure, which is why on World Mental Health Day, the American Press Institute is hosting a summit with about 60 news leaders and non-news experts in Atlanta to discuss solutions for sustaining journalists’ mental health and well-being.

It also takes time, consistency and critical mass to change your newsroom’s culture. Both leadership and team members must collectively seek change one consistent action and behavior at a time.

Over the next four weeks, you’ll get 5 daily actions to try and implement in your routine — each accompanied by an explicit why or how. Why is this important to my well-being? How is this connected to my mental health? Each activity is permission to explore other ways of working, to experiment with your time and how you live in (and out of) the stress cycle. These challenges need little to no prep. Some will feel natural, even obvious. Some are already part of your work routine and well-being practice. Others will be new. 

I hope some will make it into your regular rotation of radical leadership and self-preservation — for you and the many roles you occupy inside and outside the newsroom. I hope you can model this behavior to your colleagues and direct reports, and acknowledge and celebrate them. Remember: Culture is the accumulation of our day-to-day behaviors when the story isn’t on the line, when the news isn’t breaking. This month, I hope you will contribute to a healthy, people-centered and people-sustaining news culture. 

Click here for the first five challenges.

Share with your network

You also might be interested in:

  • This is a column on how to measure well-being for yourself and your organization. By the end, you’ll have a clear direction and quantitative ways to chart a healthy path forward for your journalists.

  • As news organizations work to grow and nurture relationships in their communities, many are focusing on ways to not only track their outreach but also build in the accountability necessary to improve.

  • Experts define moral injury as the suffering that comes from witnessing, perpetrating or failing to prevent events that violate one’s own deeply held moral beliefs and values. It is not classified as a mental illness, but it can lead to depression, substance abuse or burnout, which is one reason news managers need to understand the phenomenon of moral injury — and ways to address it or head it off.