“Are Journalists the 21st Century’s Buggy Whip Makers?”
– William DietrichEmployment news at newspapers is bad, but just how bad depends on who’s counting. Between 1992 and 2002, the number of full-time editorial employees at U.S. dailies fell 8,438, or almost 13 percent, by the estimate of Indiana University professor David H. Weaver, a coauthor of “The American Journalist in the 21st Century.” The Project for Excellence in Journalism cites a smaller total of newsgathering and editing jobs—a peak of 56,400 in 2000—that had fallen to 52,000 by 2006, with most of the losses at the bigger papers. The American Society of Newspaper Editors has newsroom employment nationally rising from about 42,000 in 1977 to today’s 52,000, a 19 percent increase in 29 years, even after the recent cuts (compared to a 36 percent increase in U.S. population in the same time frame).
Editorial layoffs are making news: 45 jobs at The New York Times, 75 at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and 85 at the Los Angeles Times in 2005; and this year, 50 at the San Jose Mercury News, 111 at The Dallas Morning News, and 80 at The Washington Post, to cite some examples.