Dorie L. Griggs

Do Journalists Divorce More Frequently than Other Business People?

By Dorie L. Griggs
First Published in Southern Newspaper Publishers Association eBulletin
November 20, 2003

After my last column on the need for emotional support for journalists, I received the following question from one of my readers:

Do you find that the top newsroom executive is more likely to be divorced than the general business population?

Considering the stress on newsroom executives I would not be surprised to find a higher divorce rate than the general business population, but I haven't found a formal study to back up my theory. I do know of a few studies that show a high level of post traumatic stress disorder among journalists, which can lead to marital trouble. The combination of tight deadlines and pressure to impact the bottom line positively added to the stressful atmosphere of reporting and editing violent and traumatic news events, is a recipe for trouble. I have learned that working in journalism is a calling for many people. The news is not only their job but a way of life. Any career that requires long hours away from the family will put a strain on the relationships at home. To avoid the pitfalls of professional burnout, newsroom executives need to be very careful to nurture relationships outside of work. That includes self-care. Ask yourself these questions:

  • When you list your priorities, do you place work before your family and friends?
  • Do you care for your work as much or more than your spouse or partner?
  • When you are away from the office physically are you still in the office mentally?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you have a high likelihood to experience strain on your personal relationships. But even if you answered yes to all these questions, you still can change the long term repercussions. If you answered honestly, you are already recognizing the need to rearrange your priorities. Here are a few tips for bringing more balance into your personal life:

  • Take a few "virtual breaks" during the day. If you can't physically leave the building, close your eyes for a minute or two and picture a beautiful place you have visited.
  • Treat time with family and friends like you would any other professional appointment. Set aside time each week to just be with your loved ones. Donât break the appointment for private time.
  • Allow for a transition time from work to home. After a hard day at work allow extra time to unwind before interacting with others.
  • Tell your family and friends that you need 15-30 minutes to "switch gears" when you get home.
  • If you notice a decrease in intimacy with your spouse or partner, this could be a sign of larger relationship problems. Seek professional help.

All relationships, whether work or personal, require time. Be willing to put in as much time with your marriage as you do to work. If you are having trouble in a relationship, look to a trusted professional like a licensed marriage and family counselor for advice. Some members of the clergy are also trained in relationship counseling and can be of help.

The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice.

Dorie L. Griggs holds a Master of Divinity degree and her ministry is to journalists. Contact her via e-mail:

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