Newsroom employment dropped nearly a quarter in less than 10 years, with greatest decline at newspapers
Newsroom employment across the United States continues to decline, driven primarily by job losses at newspapers. And even though digital-native news outlets have experienced some recent growth in employment, too few newsroom positions were added to make up for recent losses in the broader industry, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey data.
From 2008 to 2017, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 23%. 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 “other information services” (the best match for digital-native news publishers). By 2017, that number declined to about 88,000, a loss of about 27,000 jobs.
This decline in overall newsroom employment was driven primarily by one sector: newspapers. Newspaper newsroom employees dropped by 45% over the period, from about 71,000 workers in 2008 to 39,000 in 2017.
Of the five industries studied, notable job growth occurred only in the digital-native news sector. Since 2008, the number of digital-native newsroom employees increased by 79%, from about 7,400 workers to about 13,000 in 2017. This increase of about 6,000 total jobs, however, fell far short of offsetting the loss of about 32,000 newspaper newsroom jobs during the same period. (A separate Pew Research Center analysis of reported layoffs at newspapers and digital-native news outlets 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 this sector.)
Newsroom employment figures in broadcast television were relatively stable, remaining at about 28,000 between 2008 and 2017. Employment also remained relatively stable in cable television, at about 3,000 over the same period. In contrast, radio broadcasting lost about a fourth (27%) of its newsroom employees, dropping from about 4,600 workers in 2008 to about 3,300 in 2017. Percentage-wise this places radio behind newspapers as the industry with the greatest decline, though the overall number of jobs lost – about 1,250 – is 25 times smaller than the loss in the newspaper sector.
The dramatic decline in newspaper employment also means that industry now accounts for a smaller portion of overall newsroom employment across the five sectors. In 2008, newspaper newsroom employees made up about six-in-ten (62%) of all news employees in these five industries. By 2017, they made up less than half (45%).
Conversely, television broadcasting numbers now account for a larger portion of all newsroom employees, from 25% in 2008 to 33% in 2017. The proportion for digital-native news employees also increased, approximately doubling over the period, from 6% of all newsroom employees in 2008 to 15% in 2017.
Of the different types of jobs included in the analysis, reporters made up the bulk of all newsroom employees in news industries, representing between 45% and 50% since 2008.
Note: See full methodology here (PDF).
- About a third of large U.S. newspapers have suffered layoffs since 2017
- Newsroom employees earn less than other college-educated workers in U.S.
- Newsroom employees are less diverse than U.S. workers overall
Elizabeth Grieco is a senior writer/editor focusing on journalism research at Pew Research Center.