Student journalists at the University of South Carolina are putting themselves first.
Citing burnout and mental health concerns, staffers at the Daily Gamecock — USC’s independent student newspaper — said they will not be producing any content for almost two weeks.
“We haven’t been sleeping. We’ve forgotten to eat. We’ve been staring at screens for hours on end,” members of the paper explained in an editorial. “Our negligence of our mental health has started to impact our physical health, and it’s also affected our ability to produce the highest-quality content possible. There was a tension in the newsroom, a feeling that everyone was close to their breaking point.”
The semester has been “taxing,” the journalists said, noting that the shift to online meetings and the never ending stream of breaking news have taken their toll — all on top of the ongoing public health pandemic, a full course load and, in some cases, part time jobs.
“We hope this decision will set an example for other organizations and students in general: It is OK to not be OK. By refusing to accept our own limitations, we fail to actively participate in the habits we claim to prioritize,” they wrote.
The paper will return to a normal schedule on Nov. 2, they said.
The move comes as increasing attention is paid to mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. In an article published this month in the medical journal JAMA, a second wave of the virus is likely due to the “mental health consequences of Covid-19,” the authors wrote.
In August, a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 41% of adults are struggling with their mental health or substance use — both related to the coronavirus pandemic.