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A labor of love and languish: Reflecting on a journalism career

When something tragic happens, you turn to the news. You turn to the media you trust — often, these locals care as deeply about your home as you do and will give you the latest facts and keep you as up-to-date as possible.

Journalists serve the public in a unique way — a way that is often subtle and sometimes goes unappreciated or unrecognized, but overall, we can help serve as the backbone of a strong community. We do what we do because it’s important, not easy.

For many who are not in the field of journalism, it can seem exciting, glamorous, even. However, it is one of the most stressful jobs a person can have. At The Maine Campus, we do it because we love it — our fellow students, our community, our colleagues — it is truly a labor of love. The side that’s not acknowledged nearly enough is that the labor of love does not come without its downsides.

The latest news cycle has been turbulent, to say the least. Like any career, journalism has its ups and downs but can be incredibly volatile. 

With October’s mass shooting less than two hours to our south being the deadliest in the state — and only the third mass shooting in our state’s history — we couldn’t stop and grieve. We had to act. Having to put aside our processing to inform our community is a depressing task. It doesn’t just get tough. It can truly feel impossible. 

“As we covered these events, we had to step back emotionally. I didn’t give myself a chance to grieve, to think about this traumatic event that was taking place so close to home. I went to work. We went to work,” said Liv Schanck, the head photographer at The Maine Campus, in an Instagram post reflecting on her photojournalism experience during the Lewiston mass shooting. 

The nature of this job as a student journalist is sometimes horrendous to navigate. Some people can view their job as an escape, especially when they work in a position that does not revolve around the constant consumption of current events, good and bad, happy and heartbreaking. For us, it’s not quite that simple. We spend every day combing through some of the most violent, most disgusting, most disheartening crimes against humanity that we’ve ever had to face.

Young journalists are at incredible risk for burnout, causing undue stress, depression and exhaustion. More than 75% of journalists under 45 report experiencing both personal and professional burnout. The phenomenon is considered a medical diagnosis that can explain high rates of job departure and emotional complications.

Even while we navigate incredibly high-stress situations, there’s always something that keeps us going. It might be as simple as knowing that your mom will text you and tell you your story was great or a kind comment from a Maine Campus alum stating their pride in the paper. 

Sometimes, it’s easy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as having an uplifting feature that makes you feel good. More often than not, my friends hear me say, “Today made me realize why I’m in journalism.” It’s an incredible position to be in: you are a vessel for people to tell their stories, a translator who acts as a bridge between one individual and thousands of others. 

When there’s a sense of immediacy, and you turn to the news, who do you turn to? Who do we go to after a long day of interviewing survivors and making death counts heard as more than just numbers, but telling you about the people behind them? Where do we go when it all seems impossible to navigate? We turn to each other.

At The Maine Campus, we are incredibly fortunate to not only have a kind, caring and wonderful team of editors and contributors who work passionately and tirelessly for our community and our colleagues, but we also have a wonderful group of readers — just like you — who are loyal, who are steadfast, who make sure that we always feel appreciated. One of the best-kept secrets in journalism is that it is perhaps one of the most stressful and sometimes unappreciated jobs a person can have.

 However, even if you’re feeling disillusioned with the reception from your viewers or readers, it is never without its rewards. There is an inexplicable amount of pride in everything we do. It’s not selfish — it’s just an exhilarating feeling to know that you are providing services that people rely on to get through their day or even to get through some of the hardest parts of their lives.

News is everywhere, so is tragedy, so is kindness, so is love, so is pain. Journalists are just lucky enough to be trusted to share it with others. 

On behalf of the entire Maine Campus editorial board, we see you. We are proud of you. We love you. We do this job because of all of those things because you deserve a resource that you can trust. You deserve news that you can feel safe and confident about, knowing that you’re getting information that is both accurate and timely — it is what all of our readers deserve. Even with its highly emotional, very turbulent ups and downs, the constant stress and the burnout, we wouldn’t trade our work for anything.

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