U.S. Lost 30% of its Paid Journalists in 6 Years

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Washington Post investigative reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, 1973 (AP photo)

The carnage of layoffs resulting from the Internet age has been quite gruesome for journalism employment, with the U.S. having lost 30% of its paid media workers.


According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, print publications facing dwindling subscription rates laid off 17,000 reporters and editors from 2006 to 2012.


The reduction saw the total number of journalists go from 55,000 to 38,000 during that span.


Many commentators have lamented the loss of so many “watchdogs,” fearing the downsizing (if not complete shuttering in some cases) of newspapers and magazines would spell the end of investigative journalism. Alberto Ibarguen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reportedly told the Skoll World Forum recently that it was an ideal time to be a crook.


Ibarguen’s handwringing aside, the collapse of print media has been followed by considerable growth in digital media sources, including many performing investigative work into governmental and private-sector wrongdoing.


These Web-based operations include ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Investigative Journalism, OpenSecrets.org, First Look Media’s The Intercept, and the Business Insider, among others. The Pew Project found that 468 digital news outlets, most launched in the past decade, have resulted in the creation of nearly 5,000 full-time editorial positions.


Traditional news wires that haven’t curtailed their in-depth reporting include the Associated Press, McClatchy, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.


Even popular websites not known for their investigative journalism are getting into the act, such as Buzzfeed.


The growth of digital journalism has attracted a number of high-profile writers and editors from major newspaper operations, including migrations to digital outlets by journalists from The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Why Aren't More People Alarmed by the Falling Numbers of Reporters? (by Bill Buzenberg, Center for Public Integrity)

The Growth in Digital Reporting (by Mark Jurkowitz, Pew Research Journalism Project)

Local News, Off College Presses (by Jennifer Conlin, New York Times)

Sen. Feinstein Says only Salaried Journalists should be Protected by Shield Law (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Newspapers Retreat Behind Paywalls in Search of a Business Model that Works (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


anonymous 10 years ago
AP has not cut? What world is the author reporting on? AP has drastically cut statehouse bureaus and other watchdog jobs. What this also doesn't say is that too often the model for new digitals is ripping off the original work of more traditional content providers, slapping a little of their own flavor of commentary on top, and releasing it as their own into the world of clicks.
Michelle 10 years ago
Hello? AP hasn't cut? Yes they have! Whoever wrote this must not work in a newsroom. Moreover, how many of those digital jobs pay a living wage (even by journalism standards)?
anonamouse 10 years ago
This article may be true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far. It fails to note the consolidation of media in a very few corporate hands, which also has been a major factor in the layoffs. At any rate, judging from past revelations of official corruption and cynical political shenanigans --- the Reagan era comes to mind immediately --- which knowledge only emerged a decade or more after the fact, you'd be hard-pressed to make the case that, even at full strength, the professional journalist corps then constituted a restraining influence on the sorry state of our governance.

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