Newsroom Employment Continues to Decline, Led by Newspapers, Study Finds

July 17, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Newsroom employment continues to decline across the United States, driven primarily by job losses at newspapers, a new study says.

For a report released Wednesday, the Pew Research Center analyzed 10 years of occupational employment data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2008 and 2018.

It found that while digital-only news outlets have experienced some recent growth in employment, they’ve added too few jobs to make up for the steep decline of the nation’s newspapers.

Over the course of the decade that ended in 2018, newsroom employment in the United States dropped by 25%.

In 2008, about 114,000 newsroom employees – reporters, editors, photographers and videographers – worked in five industries that produce news: newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable and digital news outlets.

By 2018, that number had declined to about 86,000, a loss of about 28,000 jobs.

“This decline in overall newsroom employment has been driven primarily by one sector: newspapers. The number of newspaper newsroom employees dropped by 47% between 2008 and 2018, from about 71,000 workers to 38,000,” the Pew Research Center says.

By comparison, the number of newsroom employees at digital news sites has increased 82% since 2008, from about 7,400 workers to roughly 13,500 a decade later — an increase of about 6,100 jobs.

But the intervening years weren’t all rosy for the digital news industry. A separate Pew Research Center analysis of reported layoffs at newspapers and digital news sites found that nearly a quarter of the digital outlets examined experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018, despite the overall increase in employment in the sector.

Newsroom employment figures in broadcast television have been relatively stable, remaining at about 28,000 between 2008 and 2018. Employment has also remained relatively stable in cable television, at between 2,000 and 3,000 over the same period.

In contrast, radio broadcasting has lost about a quarter of its newsroom employees, dropping from about 4,600 workers in 2008 to about 3,400 a decade later.

Percentage-wise, this places radio behind newspapers as the industry with the greatest decline, though the overall number of jobs lost – about 1,200 – is 28 times smaller than the loss in the newspaper sector.

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