This. All of this. I gave my life to the newspaper for years in hopes of earning my own column, which I actually did have for a short time. And then I was reassigned to online content producer, which basically is just as you described it - writing fluff pieces for clicks. It was the kind of job any Buzzworthy fanatic would love, and it was explained to me that the paper needed these stories to get people to read the news. No. It was a way for the paper to generate artificial views so they could sell more ads. And it was a distraction to the important stuff. At the time, Kaepernick's kneeling was big news, and anytime there was a mention of him, I had to write something about it. Now, I believed in what Kaeprnick was doing, but continuing to write these one offs felt like I was cheapening the movement, especially since it was to entice the comment section to go crazy. And we all know who lives in the comment section - racist lunatics. So guess what kind of reaction I got for those Kaep stories...
At any rate, I believe in the importance of the news, and I know there are hardworking reporters out there. I also know what it's like to work 24/7 for boots on the ground coverage of a huge disaster. Ironically, it was this kind of disaster that accelerated the end for me, too. A huge fire ripped through our town, and for weeks it was all hands on deck, covering every single aspect of that fire. For the first time in a long time, I felt like the paper was serving the community. The coverage was stellar. Everyone worked tirelessly. We actually won a Pulitzer for our coverage.
And then after, I had the mental breakdown that had been a long time coming. It had been growing for years, coming out time and again. But I was emotionally exhausted from what we did, and there was no support for the apparent PTSD that comes from being immersed in disaster for long periods of time when you're just covering it.
Beyond that, I was tired. I thought this was my dream job. And for a time, it was. But after years of passionless work, the need to always be on, and lack of boundaries from my boss through all hours messages on my personal social media, etc, I had enough, and I walked away.
It's been 3 years, and my work-life balance is incredible. I'm writing books again, and have actual real rest time. I don't stay on top of current events as religiously as I did before. Sometimes I'm unaware of what's happening in the news. It bothered me at first. Now, I'm okay with it. I'm not at my dream job (that would be writing novels full time), but I am at a company that values me as a human being instead of a body in a chair, churning out click bait.
Every now and then, I do flirt with the idea of going back to the newspaper. I took a paycut for my current position (that's how bad my former job was), and sometimes i miss that pay. Plus, there's an ego boost when people know your byline. But then I look at my journals from back then and remember the mental anguish I went through with that job. You know there were times I fantasized about drifting into oncoming traffic on my way to work? Yeah. I can't go back.
Sorry to write so much, but you hit a nerve with me. Thank you for writing this!