MPs called to act as Brighton Argus stress survey scores red alert
30 March 2017
Journalists at the Brighton Argus, which has changed editors three times in as many months have just taken part in a survey about workplace stress, with most results showing the highest-risk score of "red".
A snap-shop of the initial results show:
- The answers of five out of seven categories staff were surveyed on show red results, meaning urgent action is needed. The remaining two categories showed clear need for improvement.
- 100 per cent of respondents so far said they often or always have to work very intensively and more than half that they were never able to take sufficient breaks.
- 100 per cent said they were not consulted about change at work and 90 per cent said they were not clear how changes would work in practice.
- More than 80 per cent said that relationships at work are strained
- More than 60 per cent said supportive feedback on their work is seldom or never offered.
The National Union of Journalists carried out the Health and Safety Executive survey, with all editorial staff, to learn more about morale and the wellbeing of staff after a series of changes at the newspaper in the past six months. The newspaper’s NUJ chapel raised concerns over continued cuts to the editorial team – including the recent loss of another senior member of staff.
The Brighton Argus NUJ chapel said: "We hope the survey results collected so far provide some insight into our working conditions and lead to constructive talks with Newsquest bosses and improvements.
"While the results are concerning, unfortunately they come as no surprise given the feedback received from members and non-members alike over the last few months. Despite these conditions staff remain committed to their work and still believe in the important purpose a regional paper can serve in its community.
"This is at the very heart of the NUJ's Local News Matters campaign which our chapel wholeheartedly backs. While our industry is in crisis and newspapers across the country are being stripped bare of resources by the bean counters, staff are doing their very best to continue to work to the highest standards.
"Along with fellow chapels we call on employers to take the first step in investing in the long-term future of their products. We also ask MPs to add their support by calling for an urgent inquiry into the state of the industry before it is too late."
Comments from some of the staff who took part in the survey:
- The paper is run on goodwill by staff who take pride in their work and care about their job and the paper…But many good employees have left because they can no longer cope with the pressure and the company has also got rid of several valued, experienced members of the team. Whenever someone is on leave or off work unexpectedly it is a real struggle. Those left behind have no choice but to work much longer hours to get the paper out. Long term and temporary staff shortages are not properly addressed with work load or resource. Bosses repeatedly ask more of the editorial team while making cuts and reducing resource.
- Staff worry about the future direction of the paper and the impact this will have on it. Stress levels are very high. Morale is very low. There are grave concerns that the standards of the paper are diminishing because the staff there are too stretched to be able to do the best of their ability.
- First and foremost, I enjoy the work... I feel proud to work for The Argus. However, there is simply too much work to be completed. It spills over my contracted working hours and creates a feeling that I have never quite done enough in any given day.
- It takes for only one person to be ill and the paper is at panic stations in terms of staffing. Time pressures are so intense that …it is a constant assembly line of filing stories throughout the day to fill in the huge gaps in the papers.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
“The results of this survey are shocking and we will now be taking them up with local politicians and other bodies. In spite of these serious pressures and repeated failures of leadership from Newsquest, journalists in Brighton are standing up for local news and fighting for a better vision for readers in the city. We would urge anyone who backs local journalism to support their campaign and sign the call for an enquiry.”
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