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Portland TV Station KATU Suspends News Coverage as Staff Attends Trauma Training

Journalists praised the decision in a year known as the ”Great Resignation“ due to media industry burnout

Portland TV station KATU suspended all of its news coverage Monday so staff could attend a training for on-the-job stress and trauma, earning praise from journalists.

“NO NEWS MONDAY,” wrote KATU News photojournalist Mike Warner on Twitter. “Just a heads up, the @KATUNews morning and afternoon shows have been preempted and will NOT air on Monday, Sep. 27th.”

He hashtagged his announcement, #stressmanagement. Executive producer Danielle McGowan added, “See you guys tomorrow. We’re really happy to be taking this step at KATU.”

Throughout the tech and media industries, the topic of burnout has been getting hotter. Last week, the Online News Association published its findings about media work culture in 2021, known as the year of the “Great Resignation.” The ONA reported that journalists and media workers are leaving the field entirely, creating a talent gap. The 2021 Online News Association Conference took a new approach to the issue, suggesting that stress is individual but burnout is systemic — meaning news organizations need to support workers instead of relying on them to undertake the necessary self-care.

Some companies, like Lessonly, have mandated vacation time to combat the burnout associated with the past year and a half, which has included a dramatic presidential election, a deadly global pandemic and a national reckoning over race and police brutality.

KATU was praised for its move Monday. Curtis Carden, an editor and producer at WCNC in North Carolina, called the day of training and preempted news “great stuff.” Shaun Elliott of Cincinnati’s WLWT wrote, “Other stations should be following.”

Travis Mayfield, an anchor at Seattle’s KCPQ, added, “Wow, this is really heartening to see. Thank you to the KATU management team for doing this.”