Coping with Occupational Stress in Journalism: Professional Identities and Advocacy as Resources

Sallie Hughes, Laura Iesue, Hilda Fernández de Ortega Bárcenas, Judith Cruz Sandoval, José Carlos Lozano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Valuable work describing occupational stress in journalism has been published over the last two decades. However, the experience of coping and how local context influences coping and support are less-often the central focus of inquiry. This study addresses this gap using qualitative responses from journalists working in the Mexican areas of Tamaulipas, Puebla, and Mexico City. Using a comparative case design to capture key differences in local conditions, this exploratory study reveals generalizable and context-contingent occupational stress, coping, and support experiences. The study found journalists in each context suffered from occupational stress and found strength in professional identities expressed as gratifications from work, commitments to public service norms, and solidarity among colleagues. In addition, the study found that the local configuration of state, civil society, and criminal actors shaped whether participants engaged in collective action to demand state protection as another form of coping. These findings articulate disconnected observations on camaraderie and values from other qualitative studies of stress in journalism, emphasizing that professional identity and advocacy are sources of strength that should be supported. The study additionally contributes to the literature on journalists’ safety by clarifying the concepts of risk, occupational stress, and coping for journalists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-991
Number of pages21
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Journalism
  • Mexico
  • advocacy
  • coping
  • professional identity
  • safety
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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