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Newsroom Employment Continues Downward Spiral

By August 6, 2021 September 7th, 2021 No Comments

Newsroom employment in the United States has dropped by 26% since 2008. But while newspapers have seen steep job losses during that span, digital-native news organizations have seen considerable gains, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2008, there were about 114,000 total newsroom employees – reporters, editors, photographers and videographers – in five industries that produce news: newspaperradiobroadcast televisioncable and “other information services” (the best match for digital news publishers). By 2020, that number had declined to about 85,000, a loss of about 30,000 jobs.

The bulk of the decline in total newsroom employment occurred in the first half of this 12-year period. Between 2008 and 2014, the number of newsroom employees dropped to 90,000, a loss of about 24,000 jobs. After 2014, the number of newsroom employees stabilized, with little change over the six-year period through 2020. (It’s important to note that the 2020 data in this analysis does not fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. newsroom employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data across a three-year period, which has the effect of muting year-over-year changes.)

Since 2008, newsroom employment has plummeted at U.S. newspapers while increasing in the digital publishing sector. Newspaper newsroom employment fell 57% between 2008 and 2020, from roughly 71,000 jobs to about 31,000. At the same time, the number of digital-native newsroom employees rose 144%, from 7,400 workers in 2008 to about 18,000 in 2020. Despite this sharp increase, the number of newsroom employees in the digital-native sector remained about 13,000 below the number in the newspaper sector in 2020.

Changes in the remaining three industries have been less dramatic. Newsroom employment at broadcast TV stations has been relatively stable, hovering around 28,000 between 2008 and 2020, now just behind newspapers in total newsroom jobs. Newsroom employment also has remained relatively steady at cable TV stations, between 2,000 and 3,000 employees over the same period. Radio broadcasting, however, has lost 26% of its newsroom employees, dropping from about 4,600 workers in 2008 to about 3,400 by 2020.

The sharp decline in newspaper jobs means the sector now accounts for a smaller portion of overall newsroom employment than in the recent past. In 2008, newspaper employees made up about six-in-ten newsroom jobs overall (62%). By 2020, the share had dropped to fewer than four-in-ten (36%). In 2020 alone, a third of large newspapers in the U.S. experienced layoffs, and as of August 2020, nearly 2,800 newspaper companies had received federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to previous Pew Research Center analyses.

Television broadcasting employees now account for a larger portion of all newsroom employees, rising from 25% in 2008 to 35% in 2020 (though the number of employees has not changed much). The proportion for digital-native news outlets increased substantially over this period, from 6% of all newsroom employees in 2008 to 21% in 2020.

Of the different types of jobs included in this analysis, reporters and editors make up the bulk of all newsroom employees.

Negative News Spreads Faster than Positive Online, Social 

The age-old axiom: if it bleeds it leads has seeped into online and social media platforms.

According to a new study, Negativity spreads faster than positivity online, and news organizations at both ends of the political spectrum are leveraging this tendency on Twitter.

To test whether the news adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” persists in the social media realm, Harvard Business School professor Amit Goldenberg and colleagues Nathan Young and Andrea Bellovary of DePaul University analyzed 140,358 tweets posted by 44 news agencies in early 2020. An automated sentiment analysis tool confirmed their hunch: negativity was about 15 percent more prevalent than positivity, and negative tweets engaged more users.

Originating as internet novelties 15 years ago, social media platforms have altered everything from democracy to human relationships in ways that are hard to overstate. Governments around the world have been debating how to rein in the invective and misinformation on Facebook and Twitter that fuels political extremism and hate crimes. Given the appeal of negative rhetoric, there are no easy solutions.

Social media has also become a crucial channel for news organizations, who must compete for engagement to grow their audiences. In their new paper, Left- and Right-Leaning News Organizations’ Negative Tweets Are More Likely to Be Shared (pdf), Goldenberg, Bellovary, and Young point out that 47 percent of Americans say they access news through Twitter and other social media platforms. Their analysis, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Affective Science, suggests that, just as violence on television increases viewership and ratings, news organizations have found that negativity reaches more social media users.

Boosting engagement with negativity

Right- and left-leaning news organizations both used negativity to engage their audiences on Twitter at roughly the same rate, and the research shows no significant difference in the levels of reader engagement for negative tweets. Although the team didn’t track political content specifically, they collected tweets during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the crisis and government response to it dominated news cycles.

Past research shows negativity spread fastest in contexts that involved two or more rival or competing groups, where negative emotions were more likely to prevail. The polarized nature of American political discourse, particularly in recent years, is a prime example, although it remains unclear to what extent social media has exacerbated such divisions.

Hot Dog Mic: Heinz Seeks Solution to Weiner to Bun Ratio Discrepancy

Talk about a dog of a dilemma.

In the midst of National Hot Dog Month, Heinz has mustard up the courage to solve a longstanding discrepancy between packages of hot dogs (10) verses packages of buns (eight).

To celebrate the month this year, the mustard, ketchup and condiment brand unveiled a petition at, urging  a remedy to the dog dilemma. The Heinz Hot Dog Pact argues for “10 wieners, 10 buns.”

“Hot dog wieners come in packs of 10. Hot dog buns come in packs of 8. WHY?!” asked Heinz on their online petition. “As the condiment that has been bringing foods together for over 150 years, we’ve decided enough is enough. That’s why we started the Heinz Hot Dog Pact. We’re calling on Big Bun and Big Wiener companies to find the answer to this hot dog packaging mismatch, once and for all. We need your signatures more than ever. Let’s change hot dog history together.”

And the pitch includes an executive quote, from Daniel Gotlib, associate director, brand building & innovation, Kraft Heinz: “We’ve seen our fans through social media express their outrage about the bun-to-hot-dog ratio … we know there must be a better way.” To promote the initiative there’s an awesome video.

During the dog days of summer, we’re in a real pickle, folks!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

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