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What do we mean when we talk about mental health and our newsrooms?

Posted on: October 30, 2020 by Mariella Brown

How can we talk about mental health and our newsrooms, the first SoE panel debate will probe.

Top journalists and industry network leaders will debate what steps newsrooms could take to make a real difference to employees’ mental health and wellbeing. From investigating current newsroom initiatives to exploring work-related causes of illness, the upcoming panel will dig deep into this pressing issue as part of the Society of Editors’ Virtual Conference 2020.

Joining the Mental Health in the Newsroom debate on Tuesday 10 November at 6pm is Hannah Storm, CEO of the Ethical Journalism Network and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s community organiser Shirish Kulkarni.

Storm, the former director of the journalism safety charity, works across the industry to convene solutions to better support journalists’ mental wellbeing, while Kulkarni is an award-winning investigative journalist and mental health consultant with 25 years’ experience working in all of the UK’s major broadcast newsrooms.

Freelance editor and consultant John Crowley joins the panel bringing his expertise currently working on a paper researching mental health and the industry.

The panel will be chaired by SoE President Alison Gow, who is Audience and Content Editor for Reach North West and has held newspaper and digital editorships including the Daily Post and Liverpool Echo.

Reach’s sports audience strategy director Jon Birchall who oversees content for the Mirror, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo will join the debate to give a unique insight into mental health from within sports journalism.

Free registration for the panel is now open.

This debate is part of the Society of Editors’ Virtual Conference 2020 which will include four In Discussion with… keynote talks as well as eight panel debates held virtually over the course of November and early December.

The In Discussion with series will hear from Kamal Ahmed on the future of BBC News in a changing media landscape; Rachel Corp, newly appointed editor of ITV News; and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon. The full programme of debates and talks is available here.

The conference is sponsored by Facebook Journalism Project and Camelot, which has supported the Society since 2001.

Meet the speakers of the debate:

Alison Gow, Audience and Content Editor North West, Reach plc

Elected President of the Society of Editors in November 2019, Alison Gow is Audience and Content Editor for the North West with Reach plc, and publisher of Laudable, a Google-funded collaboration between Reach and JPI Media to innovate and investigate opportunities for podcasts and audio for local news. Alison is a former newspaper editor and digital editor, with titles including WalesOnline, the Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo.

Jon Birchall, Sport Audience and Content Director, Reach plc

Jon is the Sport Audience and Content Director at Reach PLC, overseeing sports audience strategy across brands such as the Mirror, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool ECHO. He has previously worked at Manchester United and Goal. He is also an Associate Member of the News Media Coalition.

John Crowley, freelance editor and consultant
John Crowley is a London-based editor and consultant who has more than two decades of experience working for local, national and international news titles. He has taken on news desk, digital and managerial roles for The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and The Irish Post among others. As a freelance journalist he writes and commissions content around business, tech, newsroom management, burnout and disinformation. As a consultant, he advises companies on how to navigate the ever-changing digital media landscape and works with newsrooms on how to act on audience insights. He is currently co-writing a book for PR comms professionals on how to pitch to journalists – without annoying them.

Shirish Kulkarni, Community Organiser, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Shirish is an award-winning investigative journalist, researcher and mental health consultant with 25 years’ experience working in all of the UK’s major broadcast newsrooms.

He now combines research on innovative forms of news storytelling with his work as a Community Organiser at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Alongside his journalism roles, he’s also been a ChildLine counsellor, holds a certificate in counselling and psychotherapy and is an accredited Mental Health First Aid trainer.

Hannah Storm, CEO, Ethical Journalism Network

Hannah Storm is the CEO of the Ethical Journalism Network, and the former director of the journalism safety charity, the International News Safety Institute. She is also a media consultant specialising in gender, mental health and newsroom leadership, and has co-authored publications on the kidnapping of journalists, the safety of women in the news media, and moral injury. Earlier this year, Hannah shared her own diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder in an attempt to tackle some of the taboos around mental health in the newsroom. She is also working across the industry to convene conversations between news organisations to discuss collective solutions to better support journalists’ mental well being.