The Journalism Job Market: Not Sucky, But Not Good For Democracy

Michael Mandel, BusinessWeek’s chief economist, posted a look at the journalism industry last week that we thought was worth a look.

He found Bureau of Labor Statistics charts that track the number of jobs in journalism-related industries over time, and it’s eerie how closely the decline in newspaper jobs matches the decline in manufacturing jobs:

newspapers vs manufacturing

If you check out the original post, though, you’ll see that jobs in magazines, radio, and TV are in much better shape, cable is flat but not declining, and Internet publishing is still on the rise.

This isn’t the whole story, of course, and we can think of at least two issues:

Cable (which has plateaued, remember) and Internet publishing combined employ about 160,000 people. The newspaper industry, even after dropping precipitously, employs about 260,000 people at last count. Where’s that other 100,000 going to go? (Yes, this math is not perfect, but we think it’s a good back-of-the-envelope estimate.)

The other problem: The people employed in “Internet publishing” are overwhelmingly not writing about City Hall. We’re not going to beat a dead horse here but it is something to think about. Just because the jobs are in “publishing” or “journalism” does not mean the same thing.