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"You Can't Leave News" - Part 2



"I was absolutely miserable. And my therapist encouraged me, like, it sounds like you need to take a sabbatical. And I was like, you can’t leave news.”

As a 10-year industry vet, Jasmine Styles has lived the highs and lows of the news industry. Styles started at a station in Columbia, South Carolina, where she made less per paycheck than would cover her rent and, looking back, says he was experiencing depression. Far from family and barely making ends meet, Styles was struggling.


Her third station landed her in Tampa, Florida, where she found herself working with a photog who had a track record of “taking things out on young people, people of color, and women, and I was all three.” It was in Tampa that Styles began learning how to stand up for herself in a newsroom and how to balance personal and professional life. This included finding a therapist to address her mental health concerns. While partly due to work, she credits a fight with her best friend as the way she identified her mental health and behaviors as being “off.”


When it was time to take the next step, she thought she was set to land a role in her dream market, only to be passed over. She says it was a blessing in disguise. Today, Styles is an evening news anchor in Cincinnati, Ohio. While she says she landed the “dream role,” an anchor with a 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. schedule, Styles found her mental health crumbling.


“I was absolutely miserable. And my therapist encouraged me, like, it sounds like you need to take a sabbatical. And I was like, you can’t leave news,” Styles said. Yet, after further consideration and discussing it with the station’s general manager, she applied for a sabbatical through the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. After evaluations with her therapist, psychologist, and approval from management, Styles was approved for two months off with partial pay. It was this time that Styles says is what kept her in the news industry.


Styles is adamant that everyone should take a sabbatical at some point during their career, maybe even twice. Yet, more than anything, she is passionate about journalists standing up for themselves in the news industry. Whether it be advocating for higher pay, better time off, better equipment, or a positive work environment, Styles doesn’t hold back when it comes to discussing the issues the news industry carries.


Listen to the second half of Jasmine’s no-holds-barred now.


Episode Transcript

Jasmin Styles

Jasmine Styles, Reporting Live on Mental Health


Jasmin Styles:

My name is Jasmine Styles. I'm a TV business vet of ten years going on eleven. I think… yikes, and I am the evening anchor for WCPO9 in Cincinnati.


Molly Casey:

For you, was mental health ever actively discussed in any of your newsrooms so that you knew you had these options? Or that you felt like you had other - whether it be managers or co workers, to talk to about what you all were dealing with collectively as journalists?

Jasmin Styles:

So absolutely not for job one. That was the worst job I ever worked. I just

Molly Casey:

*laughs in background*

Jasmin Styles:

I hated that job. I was just. I was just in just turmoil in that job. Second job was bad, but not terrible. The people there made it bad. I was having a ball, but it was the best job I had, but the people were terrible. Some people, not all people. And then Tampa was when it started to like… like, people were a little bit more understanding about like certain issues. But you know like it was really my extracurriculars that started talking about mental health. So in Tampa, it's the home of Poynter, which is one of the best, how do I say this? They do a lot of advocacy work. They do a lot of leadership work. They do a lot of journalism education. They- they are a great platform. And NABJ which is the National Association Black journalist chapter in Tampa, actually had a workshop with Poynter. What's Al's name? Al Tompkins! Who also wrote “Aim for the Heart,” “Write, shoot report,” and “Produce for TV MultiMedia.” He is a god in the new world. He's like. On the same level is, like, Roy Hubert. Same vibes. So he is a journalist and has been doing it for a long time, and his wife is a mental health counselor, And so they did like a duel. Um, uh, like workshop about like what you may not realize is like traumatizing you, and like the wife, like with chime in on how to like work through it. And she was like, “because I've seen Al like come home like with these problems like, and you know like I…” So it was great because you had a journalist, a working journalist guy who's been in a newsroom. A guy whose done the work talk about his issues that we could all relate to. And then his wife, who has this, you know, nuance being with a journalist like seeing the- what happens when they come home and having the nuance to like understand, like, what we go through like that was so powerful and what's crazy was at this new job my news director actually did the same - not my news director, my GM did the same thing, brought Al and his wife to like via zoom, and they had like a whole session and people really enjoyed it. Because like I said, it's nice to be understood because sometimes especially like field crews, like or on air people like, y’all have no idea the crap that we deal with every niche deals with something else. like you've got management who's dealing with the companies or the O&Os like you know, the new channels, like bearing down on them. You got on air talent getting bared down on by management, slash being the scape goes for everything, slash being the punching bags for the viewers. And then, like behind the people, sometimes they're the punching back for the on air people. Everyone has their problem, but the on-air people like… I feel like I get it from all sides. So I was like - it felt so nice for someone to really understand the issues, the trauma, um, gaslighting, just like all of that and they nailed it. So I definitely think my job here takes- really does take care of its people. And like understands that these are issues that our team deals with, and like we got to do better at, like aiding them in recovering from those things. Like, for example, not my job, but my friend actually went to Ukraine to report during the war. She was an old co-worker at my first job, and we've been friends since that, And she was like “Jas I’m in the Ukraine.” And I’m like “you're in what?!” She was like, “I’m in Ukraine.” I said, “If you die, I will kill you. You better not die over there.” I was like this is war, I’m shook. I was so scared and she stayed over for two months. She's alive. She’s - she's fine. She works for a major newspaper, but the major newspaper let her - let her compress because she was like “I definitely had PTSD. I was like it was something I needed to go to, but I definitely had PTSD.” And they let her decompress for about two and a half months. Like didn't- didn't work. She still got paid, you know, and they took it really seriously, and even when it was time for her to come back, they were like, “are you ready to come back? Like, do you need more time?” And she was like, “Yeah, I'm ready.” But the fact that they- like she didn't have to ask for that time off like that she was like- they were just able to, like, “Yeah, you're back. Thank God we appreciate all you've done. Go take some time off. You earned it.” So yeah, I wish that was more innate in companies that they understand like *breath out* “you've seen a lot today. Let's- let's give you like two days off if that's cool with you.” I mean, if you want to work it, you want to work it but at least like the companies saying like, it's cool if you don't. It's fine if you don't. You know? I think we need more of that,

Molly Casey:

I couldn't agree more. And as you're talking about that same kind of vein, what changes do you think need to be made in the journalism industry to support the mental health of reporters and make journalism a… a long time career compared to what it currently seems to be?

Jasmin Styles:

So I feel like journalism. The- the first thing that journalism needs to do is address its greediness with its money. You're telling me that we had one of the most expensive political seasons of… of history. And you're about to lay off people. What sense does that make? Where's the money going? Like you know, girl, I'm no no budget girl. I don't do math because I'm an English person. But I'm just like again, you're making all this money hand over foot. You guys are expanding, doing new newscasts, blah blah blah, like new branches in the corporation, but you have to lay off all your people and then the crazy thing is that you lay off all these people and then you want us to do the same amount of shows, if not more. *Baffled silence* So y’all gonna hire more people? Like where are you going to get these bodies from? Like, I think they really need to assess- I think they need to assess paying a fair wage. And if that means that you can have to hire less people because you get to pay them a better wage, maybe we also need to assess *sighs* trying to say this in, like, the nicest way possible. Maybe we also need to assess the habits of American news watchers because I'm telling you right now, nobody's watching the four thirty a.m. I'm telling you right now there's very few people watching the noon. I guarantee you, the four is probably one of the most lowest rated shows for most stations. Why are we still going at eleven? I am part of the demo that they want to capture and my behind is in the bed at ten. *glare* Like here's- I was like- I think T.V. needs to do a better job of hiring quality people, paying those people what they’re owed, and then also need to re… reassess their show schedule. I really don't think we need all this news. You're- because now, if you noticed, everyone is doing streaming anyway, so I'm like you got thirty shows. God bless the Fox people. Oh, my god, their morning show is like ten hours. Like you know? Nobody needs that much news. We don't have that much news. We're doing the same show over and over. If that's the case, take the Spectrum way of business and do a wheel and let these people go home. Like, I just feel like there needs to be a shift in news because the way we're doing it is not working any more. It's not working like… *exasperated sigh.* It's not working and I feel like if they just decrease the amount of shows and stop trying to do more with less and instead do less with quality, they would see the benefits. I would say it's also getting real crazy out here for producer talent. My old job in Tampa is actually advertising four day work weeks for producers, because it's that bad. They can't find anybody, and because the - whatchamacallit - the cost of living is so high, it's so hard to find a home there unless you want to be 30-years-old and shacked up with two other co-workers. But it's like… at this point… at a certain point in your life you shouldn't have to have roommates to make it. Especially when you're in like a job with a 401K and a health care plan. Like… that don't make no sense. So they definitely need to pay the producers more. They pay the producers more, and they need to give them better hours and they need to probably reduce the workload of shows because it's just not sustainable and it's making it worse for the hiring. Like we just don't have the people, we just don't and I'd rather have like a quality newscast with less time like, even if you shrink like you know, your- your blocks from an hour to a half an hour. I'd rather have a better thirty minute show than a mediocre hour show.

Molly Casey:

I wish I could scream all of that or you scream all of that from the rooftops.

Jasmin Styles:

Off of the mountains

Molly Casey:

Because it's just it's quality over quantity. What they're expecting of journalists at this point in time is asinine. They are expecting, especially MMJs, find the stories, shoot the stories, write the stories, film the stories, edit the stories. Send it back via a satellite backpack, put yourself on air, potentially, like you said, in dangerous situations with a backpack that may or may not work, or one of those stupid Verizon sticks that we know doesn't work, but they tell us does, and just… and then they expect us to take $32,000 a year.

Jasmin Styles:

That was more than what I got. Like I said, I heated up after that. My first job, my highest salary was twenty eight five.

Molly Casey:

Yeah

Jasmin Styles:

I was dirt poor.

Molly Casey:

And it's one of the- and that's what a lot of these stations are still expecting. I know here in Denver, there was an MMJ for fifty or sixty, and then the main anchor was like eighty. I can't imagine being an MMJ right now or

Jasmin Styles:

Oh no

Molly Casey:

Or a producer and thinking, for at least like living in Denver, I can live on my own because that's not.


Jasmin Styles:

Nope.

Molly Casey:

You’re living 400 square feet and that's- that's the reality of it. And so they're expecting so much from journalists. But like you said, laying people off while making the most that they have in one calendar year.

Jasmin Styles:

It's just.. I think you talk about MMjs. MMjs and producers are the lowest on the totem pole. I put that in quotes in terms of pay and how they're treated, but the shows can't go without those two people. As a main anchor, I can get up there and look as pretty as I want and be as efficient as I want, but if I don't have a reporter to toss to or if I, if I don't have a reporter telling me like this is the story I did and like this is what I'm doing, and you don't have a producer to like stack that and make it pretty. You don't have a show. If all the producers walked out right now, y’all would be screwed. Screwed I tell you, screwed.

Molly Casey:

It's and it's funny to me because- I don't know if you've ever come across this, but I've worked with new news directors that haven't been in the field for years, or never were a producer or even an MMJ or you know, and it's just and then they expect us to do all of the stuff and they still treat the MMJs and the producers, like you said, the bottom of the totem pole, like we're disposable. And that's why so many of us just want to leave. Because if we're disposable we're just going to leave and then we leave our anchors who we so many times love because y’all are the ones that are kind of keeping us sane through a lot of it. Then y’all end up where, like, “Oh, I have no script. I have no show block. We're going to put static on air and look like an idiot.”


Jasmin Styles:

Right. I tell people all the time like, even when they send people out, they’re like we need you to get this, this, this and this. I say “okay, that's great. so in a utopian world that they got all that the story would go through. But as someone who's actually gone out and like done this, I'm telling you that they might get two out of five. If that's the case, are we still going to do what you're planning or like do we need to make a plan B? Because I feel like sometimes people on the inside of the walls of the newsroom have no idea how things go on the outside. They be like, “Go get MOS.” *baffled look* Do you know how hard it is to get MOS. Oh my God,

Molly Casey:

Especially with COVID.

Jasmin Styles:

and it doesn't add anything to the newscast, especially on like topics like that are like really nuanced. Like, bro, I don't care what you have to say about the vaccine. You're not an epidemiologist. I don't care like I care. It doesn't matter because this smart person who went to college for ten years and he's been doing this for forty, says this, so I don't care what you have to say? Like MOS is fun for like football and Christmas. Like what did you buy and like how big is your tree? Like that kind of stuff, but serious topics. Why am I going out and getting MOS? That doesn't make any dang sense and it's like a waste of time.

Molly Casey:

It is, and I love that you say you know maybe two out of five can be done, because I've heard stations that require their reporters to turn two packages or a package in a VOSOT that are two different stories everyday.

Jasmin Styles:

That's nuts. That’s nuts!

Molly Casey:

It’s nuts. As an MMJ there were days that if I got one story on air in time, it was a miracle because you end up spending so much time in the car, you end up spending so much time trying to find interviews. You end up spending so much time even just finding stuff to film. Because sometimes like you said the story is so nuance or obscure that you're like so am I going to go film, like, the side of a rock?

Jasmin Styles:

Right?

Molly Casey:

Am I going to go film the back of somebody's head. Like what do I do? And then you've got a news director and an EP going, “Hey, did you also get (enter list here)?” and you're like *annoyed stare* “So how long did you spend at lunch today?” Because I haven’t eaten yet.”

Jasmin Styles:

Right, right. I love when they're just like “oh, my gosh, like you couldn't get this done, this done, and this done?” And I’m like, “Well, if you want me to get this done, this done, this done, that means that I would have to be texting while I'm driving. That would mean that I'd have to call while I'm driving. That would meant that I’m gonna have to write my script while I'm driving. That's dangerous.” But man, there have been plenty of times where I was on the road and my little Prius, and I'd be like Uh, you know, “General soandso says…” I would be doing text to talking, trying to write my package and I would just remember what SOTs I had so I could get there and just like go. But… it… something like that. Deadlines are tough. I tell people all the time like they don't understand, like just regular people like they be like, “we have this big old project it’s due in like a month.” I'm like, “I have a project due every day in six or seven hours.” Like it's rough out here, bro.

Molly Casey:

It's so bad. And so if you were to talk to - and it sounds like you maybe do fairly frequently talk to journalism students or those that are trying to jump into the journalism industry. What advice or just words of “this is the reality” would you give them?

Jasmin Styles:

*sighs* Oh my God, uummm


Molly Casey:

*laughs*


Jasmin Styles:

*thinking* I would ask them, like, “Are you sure you want to do this because, although I love it, it's a lot and it's not for the weak.” You know, I see a lot of kids, like, leaving after one job. That's unfortunate because it's like there's better out there like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your first job may suck hard, but it can get better. I think it's just really important to ask questions and really know what you're getting into. It's really important to ask your news director what their leadership style is. It's important to talk to your GM and see how frequently they come to the newsroom. Um, it's important to talk to your EPs and producers and ask what they expect when they tell you that, like you know, you have a package, but do you want a package and two VOSOTs? Do I have like two packages. Do like - what's what's the criteria? It's important to ask what your equipment is going to be. If you're asking me to do all this like I need quality equipment. Um, like there's one station that will not be named or like Station group That is making all their MMJs work on cell phones.

Molly Casey:

Oh yeah, yeah,

Jasmin Styles:

It works sometimes, but it's not gonna work all the time, so I don't know how they're going to like… I don't know, it just.. and it also just looks unprofessional like.

Molly Casey:

You're trying to zoom in when you're on a cellphone, it's just like *tink tink tink*

Jasmin Styles:

But I'm also like, how are you like doing interviews? And like.. it's going to shake. It's just not going to look quality. But again, cutting corners will get you crap quality. And that's something to think about for the younger generation because it's like when you look to go to your next job is the quality of your reel going to be good? If you're shooting off a cellphone, like, great that you can get something in a pinch and like I know who photogs who shoot some stuff on their cell phone all the time, but they tend to be moving shots. They will normally shoot their interviews on a real camera and then go kind of like some moving or like interesting or dynamic shots with their cell phone. It's important to ask like to see the company's trends of layoffs. I don't understand how some people work for one certain company that I also used to work for when they are known for furloughs and layoffs and severances. I've worked in this thing for ten years and I swear I've seen them for furlow at least five times. That's insane, you know, I've been with the company I've been with for five years. One layoff cycle, one. You know that's- that's different, so it's important to know those things because you want security. You want to be able to stay at your job if you want to, and leave when you want to, and all the other things. I’d also tell nobody to- I would tell them to never sign a three year. Three years is too long, especially if you're miserable. What else… stay on your parents insurance for as long as you can to have insurance. Make sure all your… what's it called… elections for your taxes are proper so you can get as much money as possible in your paycheck cause you will be dirt poor. Find peers who you can vent to. Um, because I've noticed a lot of reporters and stuff get in trouble because they vent to like Twitter instead of venting to the group chat. So don't put stuff that could jeopardize your job on Twitter. Put it in the group chat. Also find an organization who will be an advocate for you if ish should go down. Like I said, I am a proud member of the NABJ and I love it to pieces. There are journalism groups for Asian Americans, for Native Americans, for Hispanics or LatinX people, there's MPPA there's SPJ, I mean, there's a lot of other stuff if you're not really into the race-based organizations. So join somewhere and link up with people who are like you, who you can talk to and vent and see what they're doing and how you can incorporate that into like your day-to-day stuff. And also find a mentor. But I would advise you to find a mentor only one to two steps higher than you. Not- I don't prefer having people like… I think a lot of people get stuck on celebrity. So, for example, I think Sade Baderinwa, who is an anchor in New York, is one of the best anchors I've ever seen in my life. But would I asked her to be my mentor, probably not only because she's probably really busy and she probably has no time for me. So I asked people like Jummy, who is a news anchor at a WRC in DC to be my mentor because she has time for me. She's in a great spot, she's in a town that's amazing and a market that's amazing, but I know she would have time for me. Um, Same thing like my mentor, Rod, who's in Raleigh. We used to work in Tampa together, and now he’s in Raleigh. Like those are the people I want to mentor because I know that they're going to call me, email me, help me, text me. It's really cool that you used to work with, I don't know, like Don Lemon and CNN, but is he really going take your calls when you need it? Like probably not. He's really busy. So… you know who probably would take your call though, Wolf Blitzer. He's so nice. I met him once super duper nice.

Molly Casey:

He seems so chill like,

Jasmin Styles:

So he was like, Oh, my gosh, like, my friend works for CNN and he works behind the scenes and he was like, Oh, like, “I'm going to meet you- I’m going to let you meet Wolf,” And I was like “oh my god.” And he was like, “Hey, I have some special guests in my station or my set. How are you guys doing?” Like, so welcoming, so nice like it was like a dream. I was like, “I cannot believe he's this nice because he didn't have to be.”

Molly Casey:

Oh yeah, and it's- it's so interesting to see how people grow in the industry and where they can grow. Because a lot of what I have heard from other journalists is I don't feel like there's a place to grow in the industry and in some respects that's true. You've got producer, executive producer, you've got MMJ to maybe reporter with a photog to anchor, and then if you want management. But I hear a lot of I don't feel like I'm growing or I feel like the only way to grow is to move into is to move markets.

Jasmin Styles:

Mhmm mhmm

Molly Casey:

And that's- It's sad because it's- it's true, but it's also like, How can we… How can we make it more of a

Jasmin Styles:

Like dynamic?

Molly Casey:

You want to continue to move. If that’s the only way to grow?


Jasmin Styles:

I think a big thing about that is like learning new things. I have noticed a lot of my peers don't learn more and I think that's what makes you feel stagnant. I'm always- whether I'm good at it or not, I'm always trying to learn something. So at NABJ, with Poynter, I take classes. So I took an entire class about the four main issues that are going to be a big deal on the ballot, which was healthcare, immigration, climate change, one more that I can remember, and I went to Columbus and I learned a lot. I got some packets and I made some good connections and I'm like, “Oh, now I know where to look for stories.” And you know I'm not a climate change girly, but this could maybe be my niche for a couple of months and see what I can find, and then I'll have like that in the back of my, you know, what you call like arsenal, for like when I need to think of stories or whatever, You know, I think it's important to go to leadership classes even if you are an MMJ and you feel like you're the lowest on the totem pole, there's still a way where you can lead the newsroom and still be like a good employee. Poynter does a lot of leadership classes. I think If you, if you're really feeling yourself, you can go back to school and go learn something new. I wanted to, for a while, to go back to school to take history. I didn't want a degree, I just wanted to go to classes at the community college, but then they wouldn’t pay for it because I wouldn’t- It wouldn't be a degree. But I got interested in it because when I covered the elections, the 2020 elections, I was just fascinated with just what was going on and I was like, “I want to do this. This is so much fun.” It was so much adrenaline. I was like, “whoa this is so cool.” And I wanted to know everything about how states did certain things and Bellwether Counties and all this other stuff. And I thought that it was really important to know the context of these things. And I don't think you can get that with political science. I think you can get it with history. So I've been like a really big history nerd when it comes to politics, because it helps me do better on those stories. So, I feel like having a couple of things up your sleeve is like a way to not feel stagnant, because you'll be learning a new thing. So, if you decide, “Hey, I'm going to try to make politics my niche and see how I can do in that.” it will challenge you because it’s something that you've never done before, and it will challenge your reporting skills. It will challenge your storytelling skills because politics is boring to some people. *air quotes* You know. If you want to dive into healthcare stories like that’s something that you can try and see how you can better inform your viewers on health care things. I think, if you dive into a topic, even investigate reporting. Investigative reporting is so hard. Like I have tried many a time. I'm not an investigative girly, but I do at least use the tools that I learned. I went to an IRE conference when it was virtual in 2021, I think and I got- I still have so many of those packets saved because I now have new… uh, what's the word… new tools to use even when I'm not doing investigative stuff. So I think that's like a really good way to grow is to kind of find a new niche, and then that could open doors up to you. Like I said, some people like never try their hand at investigative and you might be really good at it. And now, instead of just being an MMJ, now your gonna be an investigative reporter, you know? Now like you might decide that you like your town has a lot of entertainment stuff, and now you might be the new entertainment reporter I think you should really open yourself up to new niches within reporting. And I feel like that can make you grow a bit more.

Molly Casey:

Talk about sweeps and whether or not you think that sweeps should should really be, I understand why we have them…

Jasmin Styles:

*laughs* Sweeps is a scam. It's a scam. It’s a scam,

Molly Casey:

It’s four times of the year that they expect us to do our normal work, and then these special specials, and we're all dying in the end of it.

Jasmin Styles:

Sweeps is stupid because you should be doing the best job you could do in news. Regardless.

Molly Casey:

Year round.

Jasmin Styles:

If you’re just deciding to do stuff or sweeps that’s wack. That means that y’all really don't care about news and I don't know like I think it's stupid. And depending on what market you're in, so in Tampa, we were *thinking noises* what’s it called… recorded every day. So every day we got numbers. So they didn't care as much about sweeps. Not care, but like, like if we want vacation it wasn't a big deal. Like you can't take three weeks off, but you can take a weekend. Nobody’s going to do that. But yeah, I think sweeps is stupid. A lot of companies are jumping ship from Nelson, so now I’m like, “oh, maybe this means sweeps won't exist anymore.” A lot of people are going over to CommScore. Um, and it's a little bit newer, but I don't know how that will affect sweeps. But you know Nelson is the alpha and the omega when it comes to sweeps, so I'm interested to see how that will affect things. But yeah, like doing viewer giveways, and like specials like you should be able to do that any time like that's stupid that you're waiting for sweeps to do that. Also, I had one job that I was at, the news director tried to tell me, “Oh, you can't take a month before sweeps.”

Molly Casey:

Yep.

Jasmin Styles:

So I'm like, “so at that means eight months, we can't take vacation. So that means nine, ten, eleven, twelve - left me with four months where we have vacation. And then you're gonna be pissed because everyone can be piling up the vacation and you're gonna have to deny this vacation. That's stupid.” I literally called another friend who was at the same group and they were like, “Yeah, that's not a thing.” I'm like- literally hit up like corporate. H.R. I was like this is some crap, like what is this and they're like, “Well, the news director can set whatever like things they want.” But I'm like, “Okay then don't lie about it.” Stand on your, you know, stand ten toes down and say like, “I made this decision as a leader to do this.” Don't blame it on the company, the company’s not doing that. That pissed me off. I don't like to be lied to like that really pissed me off. Especially as a news organization, that's you know, admired and like you know, finding the truth and being unbiased and stuff like that. Not to lying to me, I was still mad about that.

Molly Casey:

I've heard that before. I was told something very similar. So yeah, mhmm, understood. Totally get it.

Jasmin Styles:

So stupid

Molly Casey:

When you look at your mental health journey through your time being a journalist. What do you think the biggest change has been in you between when you started in journalism to now?

Jasmin Styles:

Whooo… I'm a lot less impulsive and I'm a lot more thoughtful in my responses. I think when you are young you want to take on the world. You want to right all the wrongs. You want to stick it to the man. you want to do all that stuff. And as an older person it’s not that I have become cynical, I just become realistic. So like I'll give you an example. This is not a news example, but an example that a friend told me, So a friend was really having some grievances at his job and he was like, “I want to form a union.” And I'm like, “Okay, that's cool. I think that's smart. How many people are down to unionize out of like the group that was working?” And they were like- he was like, “man, maybe like seven or eight.” I said, “How many are not willing to?” He was like, “like three or four.” I said, “that's enough to sink the ship,” I said, “because if everybody is not on board, nobody's on board.” And what's going to happen is you're going to go out there rah, rah, rah and rally, rally, rally, and you're gonna turn around and be like, “Yeah, they think that too, and all the people are gonna be gone.” And so I feel like there was a lot of times where I would “rah, rah, rah,” and like, be mad or like, by like “this isn't fair,” or like we’re not doing a good job or blah blah blah. And then I would be like, “they think that too,” and I would look behind me and nobody would be there. And it was just me fighting by myself, which was causing me more grief, because my bosses would be like, “who do you think you are?” Like… You know? One time- one time I said- so I was at a duopoly where I was on the red headed stepchild station, and in the other station was the number one station. And so I swear to God, the news director, who just like had an affinity for the number one station, would purposefully keep like stories off the other station, so even though like you would go at nine, it would be breaking news and he would save it all the way till 10. And bro like we had completely different viewers, were on completely different channels. Like this is stupid and I remember was like, “Bro, this is like Um, Brown verses the Board of education. This is separate and not equal. Like,

Molly Casey:

Uh huh!

Jasmin Styles:

But like first of all, like, I don't know if you should say that to your boss. There was a better way to be like, “Hey, I've noticed that you're keeping stories from us. I think that we should talk about why that doesn't need to happen because we have different demographics, so it's okay that we can put stuff on our channel.” Not telling you, not basically saying your news director’s racist, that’s what it sounded like. So sorry, boss, still love you. Didn't- I was just young and dumb. But yeah, there is always a better way to say things and I think when you're young you're super impulsive and you just want to go like go rah, rah, rah. I think Gen Z is very much like that. Like they are straight up. They are blunt. They are - they will tell off their bosses, cuss out their bosses. They will cuss out their co-workers. And although I love the energy, wrong approach. So I think therapy has really taught me to sit back, make some analysis and then go like, “how… what's the best way to problem-solve this without hurting anyone's feelings intentionally, without putting my job at risk, or like my integrity at risk. Like, how can we best work this?” But also being very firm. Again, even some of this stuff that happened at my first job, it's like- I should have stood up for myself a little bit more, but I was young and scared and I didn’t know what I was doing. So I feel like there's a healthy balance in the- in your mental health between, like standing up for yourself and risking your job. And that's why I firmly endorse group chats and mentora, so that you can cuss and scream and vent to them and not do it at work, and you can keep your job because we all have bills to pay and student debt to pay off.

Molly Casey:

Oh my God, I love that. Is there anything that I haven't asked you or that you haven't had the chance to say that you think is important, and especially in the mental health realm and how it connects to journalism.

Jasmin Styles:

Every journalist needs a therapist. Everybody needs a therapist. Your news, mama and news daddy are great, but you need a therapist. Um, because you need an unbiased outside looking in view, I think sometimes like when we went to people who are in a business, they might try to qualify certain things when somebody on the outside would be like. That's not okay, Like you should not be treated like that. you should not be talked to like that. M. Here's a way that you know you can. You can go in and defend yourself and stand up for yourself without you know doing x y z. So I feel like Reaching out to your company's like figuring out their P. because I think most P will give you at least five sessions for free, And then if you're like me and you're in really deep depression, you'll go like every week and you'll hit your deductible really fast and it will be free. So you pay out of pocket for the first couple of times, Then be free, because if you go as often like you know it’ll pay. but I will also say, do not be afraid of medical intervention as well for me. At the time, therapy was not fully Giving me what I needed, and for the first time I got on Anti de President, and I'm actually I would like to work my way off of them or like down, because I went from like from five or ten milligrams and on twenty, so I'm at the highest dosage. And the great thing about that is it does balance your mind, but the bad thing is that like your highest don't feel as high because your lows don't feel as low and I want to feel more like joy In things Feel like I'm just very level, which is great because it's better than being in a fetal position of bed. But you know I would like to feel more high, so I'm actually going to talk to my doctor about like pulling down my dosage, but with also like not feeling light headed because I'm stopping cold turkey. You can let me advise you. You cannot stop your antidepressant cold turkey. You are addicted to them and you will go into withdraw and it will hurt. It is not hun. So yeah, those will be my big things. like just you know, real, ;ike looking to your company EAP program and then just use that term like If you know you’re gonna have to save money like it's worth it. Save the money. Go to therapy like hell. Often at the first go around, it’'ll be free and also don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about medical interventions. and if you need to help if it's that serious, but don't gaslit yourself into saying that you don't need therapy because you're strong or you are from a family of strong people, or you've overcome. S. so you can overcome this. Sometimes we need help. Sometimes it's too big of a burden to bear, and it's okay that you can't bear it. It's okay to ask for outside help so that you can be more at peace. Because let me tell you when you are at peace in a newsroom. It's a whole different work environment. Nothing really shakes me anymore. I don't even get mad. I just be like. Well, my pay check is coming in a week and a half. So whatever, like you know what people and I'm like, “Hey, like we messed up on this. This needs to be redone.” And I get annoyed, but I definitely don't like- I used to be a lash out person and that's not okay. Like I honestly wish I could apologize to a lot of co-workers because I felt like there were times when I really lashed out because I was so sad or angry with myself and I didn't have a good outlet to figure that out that I would take it out on the people. So I definitely have noticed that the therapy is keeping me in check with a lot of people. This is probably the first time I have ever been, like, so well liked in a newsroom. Not going to lie, I'm very polarizing. It's either you love me or you hate me and I always embrace that, but that's why like if people don't like you, people don't like you and you're not meant to have everyone like you, like, not everyone is- I call them, like, benevolent co-workers, everyone likes them. But you know it's weird, like if you're like fifty fifty like that's not good. So I feel, like, very well liked in my new room, But that's probably because I'm so entrenched in therapy. It has really helped me respond and talk to and not be so impulsive when talking to people in that Your integrity and your character in a newsroom is a big deal, and it will help you get to the next spot and it will also help shape your experience, because if people like you, they'll do stuff for you and they will you know, make your make your time there better. even if it's a miserable space. If there are people behind you. It does make it better again. Not a substitution for therapy. but it definitely helps. not a substitution. I don't think anything can substitute therapy. Just, yeah, get you a therapist. If you are of color specifically black, I'd go to a website called TherapyforBlackGirls.com where they exclusively have all black caretakers. You can look for men. You can look for women. You can put in your insurance all types of stuff. And they show their pictures, so it as great as like, “Okay, I know the person I'm looking for is black and I know I want a black woman.” So that's how I was able to find that resource. So if you are specifically African American or you're just looking for like you know someone. And I just like I was like a woman of color. There's a really great space to look there. There, an amazing resource.

Molly Casey:

That's amazing. I'm going to add that to the list of resources that I'm building for this.


Jasmin Styles:

It’s great. You can even put in remote in person you put in your insurance, Um, all types of stuff you can narrow down from men to women. It's a great website.

Molly Casey:

It's amazing. Well, I want to be your new best friend.


Jasmin Styles:

Welcome. Come on. hang out.

Molly Casey:

You're amazing. Thank you so incredibly much for sharing your journey and just so much wisdom and insight. It's so interesting to hear from somebody that's still in the industry and is so willing to speak out about what this industry can do to an individual throughout, you know your time in it, and it goes to show that you can survive and make news your- your lifelong career. It just takes a therapist and you know a little bit a little bit of self grace.


Jasmin Styles:

Yes, it's a balancing act, but it can work out for you and I think I mean to say this. I don't know. I'm going to look this up because I think it's really important- Bernard Shaw, Who was a CNN anchor who recently died in September. That was one of the things that really shook me. Um, because he said something to the effect of basically like I had a really cool career and I loved what I did, but it wasn't worth the time away from my family and I love news. I enjoy what I do, but I think at every, at some point or another, it depends what your priorities are. But if you're a family person, I don't think this is a forever industry for you. The great thing is, though you can always come back. I think a lot of people are scared to take the step back, but you can come back. So if you need your break, if you need just a battle to last a little bit longer than two months, and then you decide, “Hey, I have the itch again. I want to go back.” You can come back, but don't sacrifice the time with your newborn, the time with your new husband, the time with your mom, the time with your dad, the time with your siblings, the time with your grandparents for the news industry. The news industry will always be here. Those people will not. You'll never get those memories back and never get that time back. Um, so if that is, if that's a decision and a priority you would like to make, I think it's vastly okay to love what you do, but be willing to sacrifice that for more important things. So yeah, I think everyone is just talking about singing Bernard Shaw's praises and how like you know, he was such a great correspondent and things, but he said it wasn't worth it. All the Emmy’s, all the Murros or Murros. That stuff’s not worth it at the end of the day. If you're missing out on like beautiful moments with your family, friends or others. So that's just something I remember as you decide if you want to like, still stay in it. Sometimes it’s not even mental health. Sometimes it's just it's bigger things to life. If the pandemic has taught us anything like this, Life is very short, is very fragile and work will always be here. There are- I think they said, the war, like ten million positions open and only like eight million People to fill them. You go. You're good, You can go. You'll be back. Don't worry about it. Go do something you like or that's tolerable, so you can have the time with whatever you prioritize, But yeah, don't get sucked into that, if you. if you have a gap in your resume, they won't hire you like that. That's all boomer logic, and it's a whole new, it's a whole new life by, but it's a whole new generation running things. I wouldn't don't worry about that. I'm so serious.

Molly Casey:

Oh my God, I love that.

Jasmin Styles:

It’s all boomer logic, and I think it's really affecting our mental health. To be honest, we are living by an old generation’s rules when like houses were like ninety thousand dollars. That logic don't apply no more. It doesn't apply any more. Like when you should just stay home and take care of your kids and let your husband work like that logic does not. It needs to be a duel income household babe. Like, unless you got a rich man, Just it's we're living by a whole different set of rules, So don't let the rules of the past influence your decisions today.

Jasmin Styles

Jasmine Styles, Reporting Live on Mental Health.


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