Where Journalism Jobs Aren’t, Triangle Edition

Last week, I wrote about a Washington Post story on how journalism (or at least reporter) jobs are increasingly concentrated in three large cities and dwindling just about everywhere else, while public-relations jobs are growing. After writing that post, I took a closer look at how those numbers have trended in the Triangle:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Notes

  • The numbers combine statistics for all metropolitan areas that include Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The definition of those areas change several times over the span shown in the graph.
  • There are some oddities in the number of reporter and correspondent jobs:
    • In 2005 and 2006, the Raleigh-Cary metro area did not report any reporter jobs.
    • In 2012, the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area did not report any reporter jobs.
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Housekeeping

Circa 2010, I was blogging pretty frequently and had three or four blogs. Then came grad school, followed by fatherhood. At the same time, new communication technologies like Twitter started eating into my time and content for the blog. So my blogging has, unsurprisingly, dropped off big time.

Instead of having forsaken blogs sitting around attracting spam and hackers, I’ve done some house-cleaning and have folded the blog posts from my food blog, photo blog, and the blog for my family book project into this blog, so that I’m just keeping one blog. That means there are a number of old posts on this blog with broken images. I am not particularly motivated to go back and fix those, given how little time I have these days. Of course, most of those are really old stuff that you probably won’t see anyway.

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Where Journalism Jobs Aren’t

"If you want a reporting job today, your best bet is to move to D.C., L.A. or New York. They were home to almost one in every five reporting jobs in 2014, up from one in eight in 2004. Anywhere else, your journalistic job options are dwindling."

— Jim Tankersley, Washington Post

This excerpt comes from a Washington Post story about journalism jobs being increasingly geographically concentrated in a handful of the biggest cities. Outside of those insulated zones, the picture is grim:

The number of news reporters in the Washington, D.C., area nearly doubled over the last decade, from 1,450 to 2,760. In Los Angeles it grew by 20 percent. In New York City, it basically stayed flat. Outside of those cities, in that same timeframe, one out of every four reporting jobs vanished – 12,000 jobs in total, according to the Labor Department.

DC, New York, and Los Angeles, by the way, each boasts more reporter jobs than the ENTIRE STATE of North Carolina. In the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, where I have lived and worked for virtually the entire past decade, the number of reporter jobs declined by 46 percent, from 370 in 2004 to 200 in 2014. In that same span, overall employment in the area GREW by 22 percent, and public-relations specialist jobs increased by 38 percent.

That’s ok, you say. I don’t mind moving to one of the big three, you say. Well, ready for a little more bad news? Take a look at those cities’ cost of living compared to what reporters there make. I did, and here’s what I found, comparing reporters’ wages and job numbers in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. (more…)

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Advice for Young Journalists

Felix Salmon stirred up a big online discussion this week with a post that essentially told budding journalists to not make journalism their career. To me, the last three paragraphs of his story are spot on:

I have every faith that great journalism will continue to appear online, and reach a large and grateful audience. For news consumers, that’s fantastic news. But I have no faith that the individuals creating that great journalism are going to end up getting paid anything near what they deserve — or even that most of them will be able to build a career out of it.

If all you care about is the great journalism, then, well, go out and find great stories to tell, and tell those stories in a compelling manner. You’ll always be able to find somewhere willing to publish them, even if they pay little or nothing for the privilege of doing so.

On the other hand, if you’re more career-oriented, and want a good chance at a well-paid middle-class lifestyle down the road, I don’t really know what to tell you. Except that the chances of getting there, if you enter the journalism profession today, have probably never been lower.

Note that Salmon is NOT saying journalism is dying (despite some people’s misreading). In fact, he sounds quite high on its future. What he is down on is the likelihood that a journalism practitioner will be able to make a decent living on it.

This echoes what I’ve believed for a while now: It’s a great time to do journalism; it’s a bad time to do journalism as your primary means of income. It’s not hard to see how those two statements can co-exist, but if you need an explanation, Salmon’s post lays it out well.

Some people seem upset at Salmon for giving this advice, but I think his analysis is something every budding journalist needs to read. It’s fine if they decide to keep working toward a journalism career after reading it, but they definitely should read it, because it’s about understanding what you are getting into.

Here are a few additional pieces of advice I’d offer to aspiring journalists: (more…)

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Doing the Right Thing

"You should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do it."

— Dean Smith

That just about sums up why I admire the man so much for reasons wholly unconnected to basketball.

Quote copied from Tar Heel Blog

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