Webinar held on 11 March 2021, 11:00 - 12:30 CET during CIRCOM's Learning From A Global Pandemic week-long programme of interactive Zoom sessions, 8 - 12 March 2021


The last year has taken its toll on everybody, not least the people within our news organisations. A significant number of journalists reporting on COVID are showing signs of anxiety and depression, but our people who have been working in the newsroom and even at home have all faced new pressures as a result of the pandemic.

Mia Costello discussed these issues with Meera Selva from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and looked at techniques to help us manage our emotional wellbeing with Warsaw-based mindfulness coach Zuzanna Ziomecka.

Meera’s research, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, was prompted by several news organisations asking for guidance to understand the impact of the pandemic on their teams, and what it unearthed was that 70% of all those surveyed described suffering from some kind of psychological distress, from anxiety to more severe signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

Zuzanna shared a slide deck which included some warning signs for newsroom leaders to look out for in their staff - issues such as absenteeism, isolation, exhaustion and overreaction. She described how has been a difficult and stressful time for everyone, but learning how to deal with it is the best way to overcome it: “The problem is not with stress itself, stress itself is a very natural biological reaction to threat. It helps mobilise the body and mind to focus clearly on the problem and to go after a solution. The problem is when you don’t turn it off, and you don’t give the body the opportunity to recuperate, fix the things that stress has broken and to rebuild energy.” People find mechanisms to cope in different places - yoga, exercise and mediation being some examples given by the attendees to the session.

During times like we’ve experienced over the last year, stress is difficult to avoid, but the key message from this session is that it is preventable using simple daily techniques.

mental health

Meera Selva is the Deputy Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. In a 2020 study, carried out with the University of Toronto, on the psychological impact of COVID-19 on journalists, Meera revealed emotional distress in more than 80% of those studied.

Zuzanna Ziomecka is a chief editor turned development trainer for leaders in media, NGOs and business. Based in the Polish capital, Warsaw, Zuzanna specialises in mindful leadership and coaching, offering practical tools and techniques to help journalists build resilience during times of stress.