CJR Has a Pair of Tracking Projects

It's taking a look at Trump-era hostility to the press and newsroom layoffs

With no signs of an easing of the frenetic pace of news any time soon, it takes organization to prevent every item from slipping past in a stream that loses meaning with each accumulating story. Columbia Journalism Review is keeping tabs on two separate issues by tracking and recording related developments for each.

In one, CJR is seeking more info on newsroom layoffs from the people in the best position to provide some answers: those who work there. It’s an attempt to put a number, or numbers, to the continuing decline of newsroom jobs.

Citing recent layoffs of unknown amounts at places like Gannett and McClatchy, CJR’s David Uberti writes, “Semi-regular rounds of newsroom culling have become as predictable as media corporations’ downward spiral of ominous quarterly earnings reports. It’s in companies’ PR interests to limit news of such erosion of value, but shielding this information from public view conflicts with their own newspapers’ missions.”

His concluding ask:

So, journalists, consider this a call to action: CJR wants to make public the information your corporations will not. Please ping us with any news of newsroom staff reductions at duberti@cjr.org.

The other project quantifies, qualifies and preserves historical memory around the unusual, hostile and sometimes violent environment journalists find themselves in during the Trump era, as well as administration actions relating to the press that go against precedent. The project debuted after Guardian US reporter Ben Jacobs was assaulted by Greg Gianforte, who was then a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, after Jacobs tried to ask a question about the healthcare bill.

The account of incidents begins Nov. 10, 2016, two days after the election, when President Trump declined to create a traveling press pool following his Election Day win, but the environment of hostility was created long before that, in the Trump campaign days.