Pay isn’t great, job security is questionable and online harassment is rampant.
But journalists in the U.S. still “express a great deal of satisfaction in their jobs,” according to a new survey released by Pew Research.
That’s the positive takeaway from the survey’s buffet of information about the news industry and its challenges.
Also highlighted are internal and external issues, such as growing threats to press freedom and the rise of misinformation perceived by journalists.
Among the 11,889 journalists surveyed, 71% believe made-up news and information is a “very big problem” and 78% said they encounter bogus information when working on stories.
Their level of concern is far higher than average. In a separate survey, just 50% of the general public said made-up news is a very big problem, Pew said in its release at PewResearch.org.
Journalists are also more likely than the general public to believe news outlets are covering the day’s most important stories, reporting accurately and serving as watchdogs over elected leaders.
They are also self-critical on the topic of bias. While 82% said journalists should keep their views out of reporting, only 55% said journalists are largely able to do this, Pew said.
The bright spot: Seven in 10 journalists surveyed are satisfied with their jobs, 75% are proud of their job and 77% would do the same thing again if they went back in time and started over.
That’s despite their industry’s struggles and chaos, which are the sort of words most respondents used to describe the state of the news industry.
Some may question the sanity of journalists, especially at newspapers where 60% of newsroom jobs were lost over the last 15 years and cutbacks accelerated during the pandemic.
I’m just grateful there are so many still committed to informing the public, telling their communities’ stories and holding officials and institutions accountable.
Journalist concerns about job security are relatively high, with 42% at least somewhat concerned. Gallup polling in 2021 found 18% of general workers worried about being laid off and 82% not worried.
Only 49% of surveyed journalists told Pew their work has a positive overall impact on their emotional well-being.
Pew also found 42% were harassed or threatened at least once in the last year. Among those people, 78% were harassed through social media.
Other research is needed to assess economic conditions and quantify the journalism crisis. But Pew’s survey provides a few signals.
When asked in February and March of this year, 22% of the journalists said their news organizations were cutting back, 30% said they were expanding and 46% were staying about the same.
Salaries were flat over the last year for half the respondents. Seven percent of journalists saw pay cuts and 41% received raises.
That’s from a low base. Median pay for news analysts, reporters and journalists was $48,370 overall and $38,210 for print journalists, as of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Of journalists surveyed, 42% work at newspapers or magazines, 29% at online outlets, 17% in television and 11% in radio. The survey has a 1% margin of sampling error.
Microsoft pitch for supporting media, democracy: In a speech during the Copenhagen Democracy Summit last week, Microsoft President Brad Smith said more needs to be done to combat Russian disinformation attacks.
“What we’re seeing is a coordinated attack aimed at undermining trust in democracies,” he said.
Smith called for improvements in detecting foreign information attacks, increasing media literacy and supporting trustworthy news.
“We are going to need to, I think, invest in more traditional media. Journalism is at the heart of democracy,” he said.
More WaPo drama: You’d think The Washington Post would want less drama after several high-profile incidents involving staffers on social media this month. But the Jeff Bezos-owned paper is now partnering with movie and TV production company Imagine Entertainment, giving the Hollywood studio first crack at developing projects based on Post archives, current reporting and investigations, Deadline reports. A Prime opportunity?
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