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%.
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.
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.
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%.