Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The vanishing journalist

The American Society of Newspaper Editors revealed a study today that shows the number of working journalists at American newspapers has declined 4 percent since 2001.

* Overall staffing in newsrooms tumbled from an estimated 56,393 to 54,134 today — a four percent decline.
* Numbers of white men fell the most, decreasing by a net 1,744 or 5.5 percent. The number of white women declined 1,230 or 6.8 percent.
* Newsrooms added a net of 365 Asians, 259 Latinos but only 46 Native Americans and 34 African Americans.
* Newsrooms lost nearly 1,000 reporters, nearly 600 editors, nearly 300 photographers and artists and just over 400 copy editors, as top editors and publishers in large and small papers reduced staffs to weather the anemic economy.

Interestingly, the focus of the study appears to be on the relative degree of progress in the ASNE's well-known diversity goals. I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong to be alarmed by this. Maybe a 4 percent decline is a relatively small, cyclical thing. And maybe those reporters have just moved on to other media.

But I doubt it. Most of my peers from the class of 1990 and thereabouts seem to have kicked the newspaper habit and moved on to other fields.