How are TV stations protecting staff and looking after their mental health in a global pandemic?
Bob Ellis, Vice President and Managing Director of two stations in Jacksonville, Florida, in the United States, has told the Making the Media podcast how his team are coping after an unprecedented year for news gathering teams globally.
Ellis told podcast host Craig Wilson, "It's hard not to internalize some of what you cover. It's tough. It's hard when you can't be together as a group to support each other."
The stations, WJXT and WCWJ, have covered not just the ongoing pandemic, but also the United States Presidential Election and result and ongoing social justice protests. Ellis says he has also had times when he has feared for staff safety, discussing two incidents where employees have been physically hurt.
"I think what we do is so critically important, and to think that there's people out there that have been, you know emboldened to berate and attack, whether it's verbally or God forbid, physically, our staff for doing their jobs and telling stories is just, it's very disheartening to me, and it's bothered me a lot this year."
Making sure staff talk with their colleagues—even in a social distanced way—has been crucial to ensuring their wellbeing, according to Ellis.
"We've tried to make sure that we have some conversations with people. My staff has had these kinds of calls in small groups throughout this whole process, so we may have a call with just reporters or just photographers or just, you know the support staff in our sales department. You know, small groups where it feels a little more intimate.
"My philosophy, and kind of what I try to preach to our staff, is that if you communicate with people and you coach people and you make people realize you care, you know a lot can be accomplished."
Hear the full interview on episode six of the Making the Media podcast, available Monday, March 22.