While it might not work for every newsroom, admittedly, the staff at Prism are reaping the rewards of a four-day workweek.
Prism’s staff have been remote and spread across the country since the publication launched, in part because its mission has always included journalists who live in the communities they cover, where they have roots established and where they want to be, explains Ashton Lattimore, who joined Prism in 2019 and became editor-in-chief in 2020.
“We are an independent, nonprofit newsroom led by journalists of color,” she says. “We have a focus on telling stories from the ground up, centering on communities most impacted by injustice and how they’re working toward a better future. Our journalism is pretty grassroots at its core. We cover a range of issues and focus on the intersections between them.”
A recent story highlights that concept and dedication to intersectionality: A piece focused on formerly incarcerated firefighters in California and legislative reforms put in place to allow these people to continue their work after they were released, something which had been a problem previously.
“Because they have records, they were often not able to access the same firefighting jobs they were doing while they were incarcerated,” Lattimore says. “The story looked at the legislative reform movement behind that, the movement building behind the shift that’s allowing many of these people to have their records expunged so they can continue to get training on the outside and doing the work. This exemplifies our approach to journalism, in part because it’s the intersection of several issues: It’s a criminal justice story, a climate change story, a workers’ rights story. There are elements of racial justice. It’s also a solutions story because we’re putting context around how people are fighting to make something better.”
Prism also learns from its own investigations. A story published in May looked at a global trend toward a four-day workweek and the benefits people have reported from it.
“Our chief operating officer came to me and said do we want to try this? And I said ok. It’s very much in keeping with our values,” Lattimore says. “We want to be a place where journalists, especially journalists of color, can do this without losing every piece of their lives to it. We decided to give it a try and did a 12-week pilot over the summer.”
The results were clear. “It was a resounding success,” she says. “We decided to let it ride. That’s what we’ve adopted kind of permanently.”
What they’re finding is that people are focused more on doing their work in their allotted time split across four days, while enjoying personal work-life balance and mental health benefits.
“We’ve seen increased productivity, which is kind of surprising, but i think when people have work-time compressed, they’re more focused. … This can be a solution, at least for a certain kind of newsroom,” Lattimore says.
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Prism, an independent, nonprofit newsroom led by journalists of color, recently adopted a four-day workweek for its employees. Editor-in-Chief Ashton Lattimore tells It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell how the idea sprang from Prism’s own reporting and how the change has improved the work-life balance of its employees.