As the news industry continues to shrink due to labor cuts potential college graduates may be weary of entering the journalism field, and for good reason. In 2014 reporters and correspondents held about 49,300 jobs, while the industry job prospect forecast for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is expected to decline by 9 percent, or 7,100 journalists within the next eight years. These statistics raise an important question in the industry: is the fourth estate slowly dying?
Because of numerous job cuts in the past decade, journalists are overburdened by covering numerous stories at irregular hours. They often work overtime at random hours, seven days a week. News around the world doesn’t take a break, so many journalists are forced to continually work for very little benefit.
The annual median salary for a newspaper journalist is $37,200, or around $16 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,390, or about $10 an hour and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,580.
In order to become a salaried journalist many newspapers expect candidates to have earned a bachelor’s degree in the communications field as well as have multiple internships with various clips to showcase in their portfolio.
Student loan debt is currently at record highs; according to the Institute for College Access & Success, students who graduated from college owe an average of $30,100 per borrower.
While journalists don’t pursue the career for the pay, the fast paced environment, constant need to meet deadlines and to be the first reporter to publish a news story on a breaking subject, additional hours, irregular work schedule and low pay quickly contribute to journalist burnout.
Most journalists are also considered “jack-of-all-trades, masters of none” because they now cover a wide variety of beats and have to record video, take photos of the events they report on, manage social media, learn and utilize advancing technology to create their stories.
These job aspects combined with increased layoffs, a declining industry, as well as taking on more work for less pay have caused many journalists to quickly transfer to more lucrative fields such as public relations.
News Print is Still Popular, But Not For Long
While the internet continues to grow as the popular information hub for all audiences, 2.7 billion people around the world read newspapers in print while 770 million consume their news on desktop digital platforms. Surprisingly, more than 93 percent of newspaper revenue also still comes from print, although digital advertisement spending will increase by 59 percent over the span of five years.
It’s crucial that newspapers appeal to these audiences while coming up with an effective revenue model for advertisements and subscriptions to read articles posted online, as print advertising worldwide is projected to decline by 17.51 percent over five years.
The Future is Mobile
According to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers eight out of 10 smartphone users check their device within 15 minutes of waking up. Sean Valant, social media manager at HostGator, listed that 2.4 billion people use the internet worldwide. About 70 percent of them use the internet every day.
According to Valant social networking users also spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on social networking websites. As an example Facebook has attracted over one billion users; half of them log in to Facebook every day and 28 percent of 18-34 year olds check Facebook before getting out of bed.
Twitter holds over 288 million active monthly users, Instagram holds 75 million daily users and Tumblr averages 420 million monthly users.
Digital News Offers More Bang For Your Buck
Advances in technology have allowed for more comprehensive story-telling, including longer headlines and articles, photo galleries, infographics as well as videos and audio clips.
Print newspapers are limited in physical space, which forces journalists to write extremely short articles with five word headlines and a photo or two to go along with the story. Compared to print, the possibilities in the digital world are nearly limitless.
Journalism isn’t dying: it needs to adapt to the digital age and embrace the change that the field is currently undergoing. The journalism is evolving and the industry needs to evolve alongside the digital age.
That being said, the fourth estate isn’t the best place to get a job as of 2016. While the opportunities and experiences that a journalist has access to are second to none, anyone seeking a job should be ready for low pay, quick burnout and a high possibility of losing the job they worked hard to gain.
Author: Brandon Lazovic
Brandon Lazovic is a district digital manager at General Motors assisting a number of dealers in New Mexico and southern Colorado with website optimization, reputation management, content creation, CRM integration, social media promotion and search engine marketing. Before Lazovic began working at General Motors he collaborated with start up companies in Ann Arbor, Mich. to expand their businesses through digital marketing initiatives and previously served as the news editor for the Eastern Echo in 2016 and as a staff writer for the EMU media relations department in 2017.