America’s newsrooms are changing in important ways. Mergers, closures and layoffs have affected a variety of media organizations – especially newspapers – and these trends are reshaping the nation’s media landscape.
Here are nine charts on the state of newsroom employment in the United States today:
1Newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 25% over the past decade. 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 2018, that number had declined to about 86,000, a loss of about 28,000 jobs.
2The greatest decline in newsroom employment has occurred at newspapers. The decline in overall newsroom employment has been driven primarily by one sector: newspapers. The number of newspaper employees dropped by nearly half between 2008 and 2018, from about 71,000 workers to 38,000.
Only the digital-native news sector saw notable job growth during this period. The number of digital-native newsroom employees increased by 82% between 2008 and 2018, from about 7,400 workers to about 13,500. This increase, however, fell far short of offsetting the loss of about 33,000 newspaper newsroom jobs.
The dramatic decline in newspaper employment also means that the newspaper industry now accounts for a smaller portion of overall newsroom employment than it used to. In 2008, newspaper newsroom employees made up about six-in-ten newsroom employees (62%). By 2018, they made up fewer than half (44%).
3Layoffs have pummeled U.S. newspapers in recent years. Roughly a quarter of U.S. newspapers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more (27%) experienced layoffs in 2018, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of news articles that cited staff layoffs at these outlets. The layoffs came on top of the roughly one-third (32%) of papers in the same circulation range that experienced layoffs in 2017.
Some papers experienced more than one round of layoffs within the same year, particularly in 2018. Among the daily newspapers that had layoffs in 2018, about a third (31%) went through more than one round. In 2017, by comparison, 17% of newspapers that experienced layoffs endured multiple rounds.
While news reports did not always provide the exact number of newsroom staff being laid off, some broad conclusions can be drawn from the data. Among the newspapers for which the Center could determine the number of laid-off staff, 62% laid off more than 10 people in 2018, more than the 42% that did so in 2017. This suggests a year-over-year increase in the number of jobs typically cut by newspapers during layoffs.
4The brunt of layoffs hit mid-market newspapers in 2018. Mid-market newspapers – those with average Sunday circulations between 100,000 and 249,999 – were more likely than either lower- or higher-circulation newspapers to have experienced layoffs in 2018.
Roughly a third of mid-market newspapers (36%) had layoffs, compared with 18% of lower-circulation newspapers (those with circulations between 50,000 and 99,999) and 29% of high-circulation newspapers (at least 250,000).
The share of layoffs at mid-market newspapers increased somewhat between 2017 and 2018, while it declined for both lower- and high-circulation papers.
5One-in-five newsroom employees live in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. The financial, entertainment and political capitals of the U.S. are home to a disproportionately large share of the nation’s newsroom employees. About one-in-five newsroom employees (22%) live in these metro areas, which, by comparison, are home to 13% of all U.S. workers, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data covering the period from 2013 to 2017.
Long known as the media capital of the world, New York, at 12%, has the greatest share of all newsroom employees. This is more than twice the share living in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., metro areas, each of which is home to 5% of the nation’s newsroom employees.
While a disproportionate share of newsroom employees lives in these three cities, this does not appear to be a growing trend. Roughly the same share of newsroom employees (20%) lived in these three metro areas in the 2005-2009 period, according to Census Bureau data.
6Newsroom employees are more likely than U.S. workers overall to work in the Northeast. Roughly a quarter (24%) of all newsroom employees work in this region, compared with 18% of workers overall.
Employment at online news outlets is especially concentrated in the Northeast. About four-in-ten newsroom employees who work in internet publishing live in the Northeast (41%). Another 28% live in the West.
7Newsroom employees are less demographically diverse than U.S. workers overall. Newsroom employees are more likely to be white and male than U.S. workers overall. About three-quarters (76%) of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic white. That is true of 64% of U.S. workers in all occupations and industries combined.
Newsroom employees are also more likely than workers overall to be male. About six-in-ten newsroom employees (61%) are men, compared with 53% of all workers. When combining race, ethnicity and sex, almost half (47%) of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic white men, compared with about a third (34%) of workers overall.
Younger newsroom employees show greater racial, ethnic and gender diversity than their older colleagues. Around four-in-ten (38%) newsroom employees ages 18 to 29 are non-Hispanic white men, compared with 46% of those ages 30 to 49 and 56% of those 50 and older. In each of these age groups, however, newsroom workers are still less diverse than workers overall.
8Newsroom employees with a college degree earn less than other college-educated workers. Newsroom employees are more than twice as likely as other U.S. workers to be college graduates. Nearly eight-in-ten newsroom employees (79%) have a college degree, while about four-in-ten (37%) of all U.S. workers graduated from college.
But college-educated newsroom employees tend to make less money than college-educated workers on the whole. The median earnings of newsroom employees with a college degree are about $52,000 a year, compared with roughly $61,000 for all college-educated workers.
9Newsroom employees are far more likely than college-educated workers overall to have a degree in the arts and humanities. About three-quarters (77%) of college-educated newsroom employees have undergraduate degrees in the arts and humanities, more than three times the share among all college-educated workers in the U.S. (23%). College-educated workers overall, by comparison, are much more likely than those working in newsrooms to have bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering and related fields (45% vs. 16%) and business (22% vs. 5%), as well as education (10% vs. 3%).
Three-in-ten college-educated newsroom employees have a degree in journalism, making it the most common college major of these workers. Other common majors include communications (13%), English language and literature (11%) and mass media (7%). About 23% of newsroom employees with a college degree majored in something outside of arts and humanities.
Note: This analysis includes updated data about the age, sex, race and ethnicity of U.S. newsroom employees, as well as their educational attainment, field of degree and median earnings. The updated data come from the U.S. Census Bureau 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Public Use Microdata Sample File.