Photo by Julia Wick.
Luis Gomez
Aug 1 · 4 min read

Through a survey, 160 former journalists told me their reasons why they left the news industry. The answers below are anecdotal but they reveal a trend that is often too relatable for those who remain in the news business. This is one of three parts of a story on why journalists leave news.

“I had a passion for narrative features and there were fewer opportunities for storytellers like myself. It had also become a highly unstable industry complete with a continuum of layoffs and I got tired of seeing people giving it their all, only to still be laid off. It was also demoralizing to see these journalists fighting to stay afloat in an industry that was a shadow of its former self.”

— C.L. Lopez, public information officer

“I was exposed to a field (sales) that had a very clear track toward growing both my salary and career. There was no discernible path for this in journalism. Everyone anecdotally tells you ‘there’s no money in journalism’ but I really found that to be true … speaking to mentors, bosses, people with experience all seemed tired, had spent their life fighting for what they believe in, with no financial gain to show for it.”

— Bonnie Lee, outside sales for a health & fitness company

“I felt burned out from the constant stress, low pay, lack of employees, low morale and long hours, so I felt like my job could and should be filled by someone who actually wanted to be there, rather than by someone who didn’t love the industry anymore.”

— Anonymous, marketing/communications professional

“Initially, I left newspapers to join an online publication. I saw the writing on the wall as my newspaper group and others began to consolidate and eliminate copy desks. I left online journalism after being laid off at the dawn of the Great Recession.”

— Anonymous, copywriter

“I was about to start a family and I was not in a position to go to work and not know when I was coming home. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned a few years after that, that I was actually making more money teaching than I would have made if I had stayed in broadcast journalism in San Diego.”

— Laura Castañeda, professor of radio, television, & film

“The very low pay, the crazy hours, the extreme guilt, the feeling that ‘this is what you signed up for’ so you aren’t allowed to want to be able to afford rent, the rudeness and sometimes anger toward younger employees, the f-ed up sleep and eating schedules causing sickness, the inability to take time off.”

— Jackie Peterson, nonprofit communications

“I worked for the same newspaper for 11 years, receiving very few raises. I became editor at an affiliate weekly. In my first year, the company outsourced circulation, laid off our front office clerk and our janitor. I suddenly was cleaning toilets, killing weeds in a vacant lot and answering circulation questions in addition to being editor (editing reporter stories, pagination & writing my own content). Six months later, a new company bought us. Now, I was a new employee. I decided to look for a new job.”

— Steven Friederich, public information officer

“Family, mainly. Working for a medium sized paper owned by a national chain that would continually cut and regionalize didn’t project a great future for me, my wife and three kids. The hours sucked, I was gone a lot and having to ‘always be on and available’ and ‘do more with less’ was starting to take its toll after 10 years. I do miss it. The stories, the people, the readers. I don’t miss what the business has become.”

— Dave Wasinger, videographer for a community college

“In 2016/2017, the world got too depressing. Covering mass shooting after mass shooting plus the Trump election, it was starting to affect my wellness when I left work. Plus the pay was not worth it for how hard the work was. It stopped feeling worth it.”

— Kelly Parker, communications professional

“I was a TV journalist in a big market. The pay was good, but the hours were horrible. I purposely held off on having children because TV news is not conducive to family life. So when I got pregnant (at age 41), I felt I had to quit.”

— Melinda Skrbin, college professor

Click here to read the first part of this report. Click here to read the advice from 7 former journalists on what to consider before leaving news.

Follow me on Twitter for updates and support this series and the CA//MEDIA//JOBS Newsletter (via PayPal or Venmo).

Luis Gomez

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Digital journalist // bilingüe 🇲🇽 // Sign up to get California-based journalism jobs in your inbox every Friday: (link:

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