With end-of-year layoffs looming, what’s left of diversity staffing gains sure to take another hit.
If the start of the third quarter is any indication, the end of the year is going to be brutal for newspapers. Already reeling from decades of downsizing, journalists are seeing no end to the gut-wrenching madness given the barrage of sobering headlines currently in the news:
These tales of woe are obviously having a big impact on families, as many journalists are discovering that not even the emergence of online journalism can make up for all the jobs being cut by newspapers.
Another issue is diversity hiring. It’s hard for editors being forced to make cuts to also focus on the need for a diverse newsroom staff, although it can be done.
This year, the American Society of News Editors reported that minority journalists comprised 17 percent of the workforce in newsrooms that responded to the 2016 ASNE Diversity Survey. Some news organizations chose not to participate in the survey.
Also this year the organization stopped its practice of documenting job losses for journalists, which had totaled more than 20,000 since 2006. The ASNE said it made the decision because “the structure of modern newsrooms makes it impractical and error-prone to try to estimate” a total.
ASNE noted that some jobs, such as copy editing and design work, had been farmed out to off-site centers and could not be included in individual newspaper employment totals.
Whatever the numbers in headcount they are sure to continue a nosedive — and raises are taking a hit, too. In Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun Guild published a commentary on Medium.com decrying stagnant wages at the paper:
This spring, the parent company of The Sun cited our powerful, Pulitzer-recognized journalism of the last year in announcing a raise for journalists throughout the company of 2.5 percent of their annual salaries. The only catch? The gesture was not extended to unionized employees — including the vast majority of the journalists in the Sun newsroom.
While tronc and our possible future owner, Gannett, debate the millions of dollars that could change hands in a sale of The Sun and its sister papers, the reporters, photographers, community coordinators and copy editors who produce the Sun are asking for our share.
We’re appealing to you to help us get the word out by sharing our concerns with your followers on social media and expressing your support for us. Most of the reporters and photographers who produce the content that informs the region have not received a raise in years.
In Cincinnati, former Cincinnati Enquirer staffer Ben Liebing writes about how years of cuts have gutted his former paper as experienced, well-paid reporters have been pushed out:
The Enquirer newsroom is staffed by young writers, almost none of whom are from Cincinnati, many of whom are just several years out of school, and almost all of whom espouse the view — subconsciously or overtly — that Cincinnati is a second-rate city in need of help — namely, theirs.
But come on, we’re writers. Delusional comes with the territory.
There’s also nothing wrong with being a non-native. Sometimes it lends invaluable outside perspective. This can be good.
What it guarantees, however, is an incomplete understanding of local colloquialism, culture, ideology, and — most of all — history.
The New York Times is reporting that main problems are the same in virtually every market:
Across the country, those working in the newspaper industry are fretting as the end of the year approaches. Driving much of the anxiety is a steep drop in print ad revenue, once the lifeblood for newspapers. Spending on newspaper advertising in the United States is projected to fall 11 percent this year, to about $12.5 billion, according to the Interpublic Group’s Magna.
At the same time, digital advertising and other forms of revenue have been slow to pick up the slack, leading news companies, including The New York Times, The Guardian and Gannett, the owner of USA Today, to cut costs by downsizing.
“More and more publishers are coming to the recognition that there’s a new normal,” said Alan D. Mutter, who teaches media economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and writes about the media on the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur. “And the new normal is not nearly as nice as the old normal was.”
Sadly, the current trends are sure to continue for a while, as newspapers continue getting used to that new normal.