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: newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable 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.