The number of journalists working at U.S. newspapers today is at the lowest point since the American Society of News Editors began its annual newsroom census in 1978.
Newspapers now employ 40,600 editors and reporters vs. a peak of 56,900 in the pre-Internet year of 1990, according to the census released today. Thus, newsroom headcount has fallen by 28.6% from its modern-day high.
As illustrated below, the most precipitous drop in staffing occurred in the depths of the recession between 2008 and 2010.
The ASNE census was started when the industry became concerned about addressing the lack of minority staffing in newsrooms in the late 1970s.
Editors and publishers reasoned, properly, that greater diversity in newsrooms would improve the quality and quantity of reporting about all segments of society.
The first survey in 1978 discovered that members of minority groups held only 3.6% of newsroom jobs. In 2012, the number is a more respectable 12.3% of positions.
While this statistic represents a considerable improvement over the years, the figure is below the peak minority employment of 13.5% achieved in 2008.
Footnote: The ASNE formerly was known as the American Society of Newspaper Editors but decided to modernize its image a few years ago by taking the P-word out of its name.