Blood on the Newsroom Floor: We’re Number 5!

That’s newspaper reporting jobs, ranked as number five on the “The 10 Worst Jobs of 2012″ list from CareerCast.

That’s the first bad news we have, along with a report revealing that the current state of American newspaper journalism is likely to drive precisely the most idealist journalists out of the craft.

Then there are stories about pending layoffs through buyouts, more corporate demands for pay cuts through enforced time off, the decline of minorities in journalism, huge layoffs at Canada’s public television network, and, finally, some links to stories about folks who really do deserve to lose their jobs.

The fifth worst job in America

First up, the grim summary from CareerCast about why they picked newspaper reporting as the fifth worst job in Amerrica:

For the first time ever, two different media jobs made our Worst Jobs list: Newspaper Reporter and Broadcaster. As the digital world continues to take over and provide on-demand information, the need for print newspapers and daily newscasts is diminishing. To be sure, both jobs once seemed glamorous, but on-the-job stress, declining job opportunities and income levels are what landed them on our Worst Jobs list.

“You can definitely see a decline in the industry. As a sports reporter, there used to be several reporters at an event and now, sometimes, I’m the only one,” says David Campbell, a Reporter and Editor for a Pennsylvania newspaper. What has led to the decline in newspapers, Campbell says, is apathy. “Today’s younger generation doesn’t seem to care about the news, and, if they do, it’s more about celebrities and Hollywood and not what’s going on in their backyards.”

Gee, ya think so?

Miserable conditions are driving out the best

More grim news come from University of Kansas journalism prof Scott Reinardy who surveyed 2,100 members of the working press about their job satisfaction.

Some highlights:

Reinardy conducted a survey of more than 2,100 working journalists to determine how they view themselves, how they view their work and whether they plan to continue working as journalists. He asked journalists questions about job security, organizational commitment, overall job satisfaction, coping strategies and job quality.

In terms of job security, respondents were asked whether they thought their job was secure, or whether they felt they might be laid off as well. Employees are often worried when layoffs are happening, especially if the method by which they are carried out is not clear to employees. Many of the respondents said some of their colleagues who were laid off consistently received good job reviews.

“That really chips away at your self-esteem,” Reinardy said of uncertain job security.


Changing duties, increased workloads and other results of layoffs have real effects on not only how journalists view themselves and the profession, but on the very field of journalism. Not only are many good journalists losing jobs, those remaining may become more and more likely to leave voluntarily.

“Understanding the perspective of remaining journalists can assist in developing managerial strategies to bolster self-affirmation among newsroom employees,” Reinardy wrote. “Addressing these issues becomes salient when layoff fears rise, job satisfaction dwindles, and the quality and quantity of work diminishes. When these situations occur, newspapers won’t need to initiate further layoffs; good journalists will choose to leave on their own.”

Read the rest.

Not layoffs yet in Milwaukee, but soon?

We suspect layoffs are in the works at that city’s Journal-Sentinel if enough employees don’t take the buyouts currently on offer.

From Milwaukee Magazine:

Once again, the Journal Sentinel is offering to buy out employees. A letter to employees on Monday, first reported by Jim Romenesko, says the deal is being offered throughout the company, “including the corporate IT department.” That suggests perhaps newsroom people aren’t the primary target, as newsroom union president Tom Silverstein told members the same day. (That letter is also at Milwaukee Magazine alum Romenesko’s blog.) But Silverstein noted in his correspondence that he made no predictions, “in light of previous curveballs the company has thrown at the last minute.”

Asked about the new buyout offer this week, Silverstein declined comment.

The latest offer comes amid continued labor negotiations on a contract that have been dragging on for nine months. Tensions have been mounting, symbolized by a recent campaign of desk signs that the union, Newspaper Guild Local 51, began passing out about a month ago, as Romensko reported earlier. The first installment contrasted $1 million rank-and-file employees have given up in the last three years against bonuses worth five times as much awarded to the top five executives over that same period.

Read the rest.

There’s more here from Jim Romenesko.

USA Today’s mandatory furloughs

It’s a common strategy today to enact pay cuts through so-called furloughs.

Gannett, America’s most rapacious paper chain, has adopted the practice also followed by MediaNews, California’s dominant chain, anchored by the Denver Post.

We’ve mentioned the furloughs before, but now they’ve caught some attention overseas.

From The Independent’s Enjoli Liston:

USA Today, America’s second-biggest newspaper, has asked most of its staff to take week off without pay to save money. The measures come as the newspaper continues to struggle to sell advertising space and is the latest in a series of cost-cutting initiatives in recent years.

In a memo to staff, USA Today bosses indicated that the newspaper expects disappointing financial results in the quarter to June.

According to the Associated Press, the executives, Susie Ellwood and Evan Ray, wrote: “The bottom line is that business conditions continue to be mixed and the national advertising environment remains volatile.”

Mr Ray is president of Gannett Publishing Services, which prints and distributes USA Today and more than 80 other US newspapers, most of which have also asked staff to go unpaid for a week.

Read the rest.

Furloughs at McClatchy’s Miami Herald

While Gannett is only mandating one week without pay, Sacramentoo-based McClatchy is going them one better at the chain’s Florida paper.

From Tim Elfrink of Miami New Times:

At the Miami Herald, staffers are facing two weeks of unpaid furloughs this year and a hiring freeze has left key jobs unfilled for months. The paper’s parent company, McClatchy, saw revenues drop 8 percent last year while advertising plummeted by 9 percent. So news that McClatchy has handsomely rewarded its top bosses with extra payouts and stock should piss a lot of folks off at One Herald Plaza.

Take Anders Gyllenhaal, the Herald’s former executive editor who became a McClatchy vice president in 2010 after overseeing hundreds of layoffs. He went home with $56,000 in “incentive compensation” last year on top of his $375,000 salary, according to new filings obtained by Riptide. Along with stock awards and “other compensation,” he nearly made $1.3 million last year. That’s like 45 cub reporters’ salaries!

Read the rest.

Union rallies against work changes

One of the hottest strategies around is replacing staff — with all those dwindling benefits and payments — with free-lancers, and that’s one of the things that has unionized journalists worried in Ohio.

The Dayton Newspaper Guild will be holding a rally tomorrow, protesting employment changes at that city’s Dayton Daily News, where they’re challenging what they call the paper’s

efforts to degrade working conditions in its newsroom. Among its demands, the newspaper is seeking unlimited power to use freelancers to replace professional journalists who serve as the community’s watchdog. This is a serious threat, as the newspaper announced last month that it also is outsourcing oversight of the delivery of its newspapers.

The newspaper also wants to end job security for its most experienced workers by eliminating seniority-based layoffs. And even while the company gives nonunion newsroom managers raises and bonuses, it continues to deny small merit raises for hard-working union employees who kept the newspaper profitable during the recession.

Read the rest.

It could be worse. They could have Arianna Huffington for a boss and be working for free.

Minorities fading away in newsrooms

During the course of our own years in the ink-stained craft we watched with delight as formerly pallid newsrooms started taken on some color in the 1960s.

It was an exciting time as older editors found themselves forced to confront questions never raised before, implicitly raised by presence of a dash of melanin around them.

A lot of old-timers grew in the process, and the changed atmosphere could be electric.

But that was then. This is now.

From Mallary Jean Tenore of Poynter MediaWire:

The number of minorities in the U.S. is growing, but in newspaper newsrooms it continues to creep downward.

New ASNE figures show that the percentage of minorities in newsrooms is now 12.32 percent. The share has dropped about a percentage point since ASNE’s 2010 census.

Minority newsroom employment has no doubt increased since ASNE started its survey in 1978, when the percentage of minorities in newsrooms was just below 4 percent. The percentage peaked during ASNE’s 2006 census (at 13.73 percent), but it has fallen almost every year since.

Figures from the past three years show that the decline of minorities has been significantly higher compared to the overall decline of newsroom employees.

  • 2010 figures show the number of minorities working at daily newspapers declined by 12.7 percent, compared to an overall newsroom decline of 11.13 percent.
  • 2011 figures show the number of minorities declined by 3.64 percent, compared to a .24 percent gain overall.
  • 2012 figures show that overall newsroom employment has dropped 2.4 percent, from 41,600 to 40,600. But among minorities, the decrease has been more than twice as large: 5.7 percent, from 5,300 to 5,000. During that time, nearly one out of three newsroom job cuts have affected minorities.

Read the rest.

And there are major layoffs coming

And they’re in Canada, where the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will lay of hundreds and shut down its venerable international news service.

From the Toronto Star’s Bruce DeMara and Liam Casey:

The CBC will eliminate 650 jobs over the next three years, including 475 this fiscal year, in response to deep funding cuts in last week’s federal budget.

“It’s been a tough day for the broadcaster,” said CBC president and CEO Hubert Lacroix, after informing staff of the looming cuts during a “town hall” announcement Wednesday.

The federal budget means the CBC will lose $115 million in funding over three years. But Lacroix noted that because of cost increases and investments, it faces a shortfall of $200 million. Lacroix said the CBC hopes to offset that with $50 million in new revenue. The remaining $150 million will be reached through staff and program cuts and efficiencies.

Lacroix noted the CBC is facing about $200 million in financial pressures over the next three years as a result of the budget cuts: $27.8 million this year, rising to $69.6 million in 2013-14 and $115 million by 2014-15. In the short-term, the broadcaster also has to find another $25 million immediately to pay for severance costs.

Read the rest.

Which isn’t to say some folks shouldn’t lose jobs

Just consider this guy.

And then there are these guys.


One response to “Blood on the Newsroom Floor: We’re Number 5!

  1. Pingback: Blessings | musingsofadisturbedmind

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