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By Milos Djordjevic | April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

22 Amazing Journalism Statistics Showing Current Industry Trends [The 2021 Edition]

Since the invention of the printing machine in the 15th century, journalism has been present in all cultures. It has been a noble and influential profession for centuries now. But its key characteristics started to change dramatically with the development of the digital world.

We’re bringing you the latest journalism statistics for a detailed insight into what it means to be a journalist today. We’ll also discuss the industry’s current state and examine how the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 affected it.

Top Journalism Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • 44% of teachers report a rise in journalism class enrollment.
  • Cable news networks experienced massive viewership gains in 2020.
  • Employment in journalism has been continuously declining since 2008.
  • By 2026, the job market in journalism will shrink by 10.1%.
  • The typical journalism salary is below the national average.
  • 74% of people worldwide expressed concern over fake news about coronavirus.
  • 62% of Americans think social media sites have too much control over news content.
  • Only 25% of US journalists believe they have the skills to interpret statistical data.

Interesting Journalism Facts and Stats

Without a doubt, journalism can be a powerful force. Whether it’s informing the public on important and hidden information or arguing for more human and social rights, journalism proved to be able to drive social change. Let’s check some interesting statistics and some crazy journalism facts which show just how powerful the field can be.

1. Going undercover is a centuries-old method in journalism.

(IrishCentral)

Going undercover on a journalist task is perhaps considered old-fashioned today, but it proved historically important in bringing new and socially engaged stories. Irish-American journalist Nellie Bly did just that in 1880. She faked mental illness to get into the New York mental asylum and exposed horrible conditions in which the patients were being cared for. Later on, thanks to her detailed story, NYC budgeted an additional $1 million to the asylum.

2. 44% of teachers report a rise in journalism class enrollment.

(Education Week)

According to student journalism statistics, new generations of journalists are eager to attend classes and get their feet wet by reporting for school news outlets. Nearly a half of teachers in journalism schools and colleges across the US (44%) say they’re seeing a rise in class enrollment, and 30% of them report they’re witnessing a surge in interest in journalism.

3. Travel journalism statistics show this type of writing is still in high demand.

(OptinMonster)

Traditional travel writing has seamlessly adapted to the digital era, providing even more opportunities than before. Travel journalists note the importance of this genre, as its content effortlessly extends to social media and blogs through sharing travel experiences, amazing photography, and video —  all generating high engagement. According to research, 33% of travelers in the US use travel blogs as a source of information when planning a trip.

4. Statistics about journalism show that Twitter is the most valuable social platform to journalists.

(Muck Rack)

Apparently, journalists aren’t that fond of Facebook, as only 40% say they’re using it to engage with audiences. Instead, Twitter proved to be the most valuable social platform to them, with 83% of journalists citing it as an essential social platform in building readership.

And it actually makes perfect sense. As Facebook turned into the largest global platform, it became overcrowded. There’s a lot of “noise” there, making it hard for content to reach the readers. On the other hand, Twitter’s users are less distracted by an endless stream of content and have proved to be more avid and interested readers in general.

5. News media statistics point to massive viewership gains for cable news networks in 2020.

(Variety)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, audiences turned to television for timely reporting. All three major cable news networks posted impressive viewership gains — MSNBC was up 23% from 2019, CNN’s viewership increased by a whopping 83%, and Fox News grew by 43%. The latter also ranked among the 10 most-watched networks in the coveted 18–49 demographics, despite broadcasting via cable and typically attracting older audiences.

6. Don’t count out radio just yet — radio broadcasts reach 86.3% of Americans aged 12 and over.

(Statista)

One of the most interesting facts about journalism is that the readership is largely defined by their way of life — picking a time to sit and watch or read the news depends on our jobs, daily commitments, and other personal preferences. Even though radio broadcasting is losing its influence when it comes to news reporting, its impact is hardly negligible.

Since the US is known as a “commuter land,” people are mostly listening to the radio in their cars. In this way, its program actually reaches 86.3% of the population every single week.

7. Newspaper readership statistics show a dramatic decline in print circulation.

(Statista)

Newspaper readership has been in a downfall since 2008, when digital media started to take over. It’s a trend that will most likely continue, turning print newspapers into a luxury item primarily intended for subscribers. When looking at weekday circulation numbers, they went down from 63.3 million in 1984 to 28.5 million in 2018. In fact, the circulation is so low that the independent auditor AAM has stopped publishing the data altogether.

Journalism Employment Statistics

Digital media has had a tremendous impact on modern journalism. The industry had to act quickly and adapt to new technologies to attract new and retain existing readers. The results of these changes are perhaps most evident when looking at employment in journalism.

8. Employment in journalism has been continuously declining since 2008.

(Pew Research Center, Axios)

According to journalism job statistics, employment in newsrooms across the US has dropped by 23% since 2008. Newspaper and radio journalism took the biggest hit, while employment in television journalism remained the same. At the same time, digital media journalism employment rose. Until 2014, the employment rates were dropping fast, before the situation stabilized and the decline became more manageable — but then came the pandemic.

While investigating facts about journalism layoffs in 2020, Axios found that 16,000 newsroom employees lost their jobs due to pandemic-related budget cuts. Besides journalists and reporters, this number includes videographers, photographers, editors, and other essential newsroom employees. On top of that, another 14,000 US media employees not working in newsrooms — from behind-the-scenes personnel to executives — lost their jobs in 2020.

9. Newspaper publishing companies are rapidly shedding employees.

(Pew Research Center)

According to the Bureau of Labor data, 62% of all US newsroom employees worked in newspapers in 2008. This share has since fallen to 40%. Print journalism statistics show that the decline of employment in newspaper publishing companies was drastic — the total number of employees has more than halved since 2008, dropping from 71,070 to 34,950.

10. Employment in television news broadcasting is on the rise.

(Pew Research Center)

Even though internet-only outlets (also known as “digital native”) experienced the biggest rise in employment, broadcast TV also saw an improvement. In 2008, its staff made up 25% of total US newsroom employees. Its share has since risen to 34%. Both TV and newspaper statistics show that reporters make up between 45% and 50% of the newsroom workforce.

11. By 2026, the job market in journalism will shrink by 10.1%.

(CareerExplorer)

According to recent journalism career statistics, the declining demand for journalists will lead to a total shrinking of the market by 10.1%. Meanwhile, competition for traditional roles in journalism is likely to become fiercer. On the other hand, opportunities for freelancers, digital content creators, and editors — especially those in smaller niches — will continue to grow.

12. The typical journalism salary is below the national average.

(ZipRecruiter, ZipRecruiter, ZipRecruiter, The Balance Careers)

As of April 2021, the average journalism salaries stood at $42,390 per year, with an hourly rate of about $20. This is 17.2% lower than the latest reported national median salary, which stood at $51,168 per year in 2020’s final quarter. Newspaper reporters make much less — in April 2021, their starting journalism pay rate was just $26,133 per year or $13 per hour.

For the majority of journalists, it takes years to achieve serious career advancement. And when they do, they usually earn around $78,028, the average yearly salary for top-level journalists — still considerably lower than what seniors in other better-paying fields make.

13. According to journalism workforce statistics, women are still a minority among journalists.

(Poynter, Statista)

Women make up the majority of journalism school and college students, but they still struggle to establish better visibility in the actual journalism workforce. Not a single major news publication has more than 49% of women in its workforce. The Wall Street Journal, the most circulated US newspaper in 2020, currently employs only 36% women.

14. During the Pulitzer Prize’s first century, 84% of winners were men.

(Columbia Journalism Review)

Looking more closely at the position of women in journalism, statistics reveal the field has historically been something of a “boys’ club.” Only 16% of Pulitzer Prize winners during the award’s first century were women. In recent years, we’ve seen more female journalists get formal recognition, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve full equality in this area.

15. The US newsroom is less diverse than the country’s overall workforce.

(Pew Research Center)

Most popular media outlets are progressive, but that doesn’t seem to reflect on the overall diversity in journalism, statistics show. This is perhaps best visible in the workforce’s racial structure, with 77% of all newsroom employees being white. For comparison, the country’s total workforce is only 65% white. The racial gap in journalism increases with the employees’ age. At the same time, the divide is much smaller among younger generations of reporters.

16. Freelance journalism rates are still on the rise.

(First Monday, Freelance Writing)

Freelance writers don’t have to report their employment details, making it difficult to assess their position on the job market. Still, research suggests that freelance rates have been steadily growing since 2008. In a study conducted by Upwork, 71% of respondents said their workload obtained online had increased over the previous year.

However, another study showed that the freelance writing field is very crowded, and very few freelance writers make a living from their work. A typical freelancer works about 20 hours per week and makes around $10,000 per year. Those earning more than $40,000 work full-time.

17. The number of journalists in the world isn’t necessarily declining.

(Eurostat)

Even though the number of journalists in the US is declining, things are different elsewhere in the world. In Europe, the number of journalists has remained unchanged since at least 2017. There are currently more than 400,000 employed journalists in EU member states, with the highest levels of employment in Germany, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Compared to 2012, the number of employed journalists has increased by almost 10%.

Journalism Statistics - Pen on White Lined Paper

Journalism Facts on Fake News and Biased Reporting

Thanks to the rise of digital media, journalists have more possibilities than ever to tell their stories in an engaging way. But as the industry was adapting and attempting to merge traditional and contemporary ways of doing journalism, a major issue arose — fake news. Let’s see how this development has impacted journalism and people’s trust in news outlets.

18. The online spread of fake news is one of the most worrisome trends in journalism.

(Statista)

It’s getting more and more difficult to recognize fake news on websites and social media. Those spreading false information became savvier than ever in distributing posts and developing sophisticated websites. That’s one of the reasons why 49% of the people who shared fake news on social media only later found out that the info they shared was false.

Perhaps even more alarming for the current news media landscape is that 10% of those who shared fake news did so intentionally, being fully aware they’re sharing falsified information.

19. Statistics on bias in journalism tell us that people keep watching and reading the news but rarely fully believe them.

(Science Advances)

Complaining of bias in news media is as old as the news media itself. It seems that people have always thought that the media favors one position over another. A recent Gallup poll showed that 78% of Americans think it’s unacceptable for a news outlet to favor one political party. And yet, 64% of them think the news media generally favors Democrats. On top of that, only 20% believe the media is actually capable of unbiased reporting.

20. 62% of Americans believe social media companies have too much control over the news people see.

(Pew Research Center)

One of the biggest journalism trends right now is using social media as a news source. While convenient for both media outlets and news consumers, it’s not without its downsides. As many experts have pointed out, social media websites deliver the news based on algorithms that combine their users’ interests, political beliefs, and behavior on the platform.

As a result, everyone only sees the information the algorithms think they want to see. After all, social media’s primary goal isn’t to bring its users information but to ensure high engagement on posts. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of this, and 62% think that social media has too much control over news distribution.

21. In yellow journalism statistics, 74% of news consumers are worried about “fake news” about coronavirus.

(Statista)

Long before we knew about “fake news,” there was yellow journalism. Characterized by high sensationalism, dramatic reporting, and at least partially fabricated stories, yellow journalism facts show it became prevalent in the late 20th century, mostly thanks to the tabloid press.

Its 21st-century equivalent — a much more dangerous one — is “fake news.” As more media outlets started reporting on coronavirus in March 2020, 74% of news consumers worldwide said they were worried about being exposed to false information about the virus’s spread.

22. Data journalism statistics show that only 25% of journalists think they’re well-equipped to interpret statistical sources.

(Nieman Lab)

Data journalism is a reporting type based on using statistics and other hard-facts sources. The main idea is to bring journalism as close to factual and objective reporting as possible. This kind of journalism is becoming even more important in the current era of false news.

One of the more interesting facts about journalists — and a very alarming one — is that only 25% of them believe they’re trained for this type of reporting. However, the journalistic community agrees on the importance of using statistical data. Namely, 80% of journalists believe interpreting statistics from various sources is a very valuable professional skill.

Journalism Statistics: In Conclusion

Journalism is a dynamic industry, and it’s currently dealing with major changes.

Due to the spread of digital media, the way we consume information has changed drastically. These changes have inevitably affected traditional media, forcing it to adjust to today’s social media-driven world. On top of that, adapting to new revenue models forced many outlets to lay off staff — and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 further contributed to this problem.

The industry as a whole still has a lot of work to do on establishing newsroom equality and boosting minority voices, journalism statistics suggest. Yet despite some not-so-positive predictions for the journalism job market, the rise of digital will create more opportunities for journalists to tell their stories. Freelance journalists in select niches have a particularly good job outlook, but they’ll have to avoid fake and biased reporting to earn people’s trust.

FAQ

How big is the journalism industry?

The US journalism industry’s annual revenue is $24.65 billion. It’s a massive decline compared to 2005, when the industry generated $49.4 billion. The fall was primarily caused by the rising popularity of digital media and decreased circulation and marketing revenues.

How many journalists are there in the United States?

According to recent research, US newsrooms employ a total of 87,150 people, many of them journalists. This is a significant fall compared to 2008, when there were 114,260 newsroom employees across the country. Newspaper publishers have seen the most significant decline in employment. Meanwhile, digital media and television have seen their job rates go up.

What is the demand for journalists?

Unfortunately, the demand for journalists in traditional positions is not very high. To make matters worse, the journalist job market is expected to decrease by 10.1% by 2026. For this reason, the competition is becoming fiercer than ever. However, the demand is higher for freelance writers, especially those specializing in niche topics like travel and science.

What are the 4 types of journalism?

Based on how they tackle topics, we can distinguish between four types of journalism:

  1. Investigative journalism — This style of journalism focuses on reporting exclusive news stories other outlets haven’t covered. Each report is the result of a long and exhaustive investigation process that can last for months or even years.
  2. Storytelling journalism — As the name suggests, this style involves presenting otherwise dull, uninteresting stories in a captivating, vivid way. Some of the world’s most popular journalists are known for their storytelling approach to reporting.
  3. Provocative journalism — Not to be confused with what tabloids do, this type of journalism analyzes familiar topics from new perspectives and inspires news consumers to think about them critically.
  4. Analytical journalism — More than just standard reporting, this type of journalism covers topics in a broader context. Analytical journalists usually specialize in the subject they’re covering and have a vast knowledge of it.
Is journalism a good career?

Whether journalism is a good career option for you will entirely depend on your drive and passion for what journalism brings along. Even though the industry has seen better days, as our journalism statistics overview has shown, it’s a dynamic and respected profession with a high sense of purpose and responsibility. If you want to become a journalist, research your options and use this insight as a starting ground in planning how to put yourself out there.

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