Friday, January 25, 2008

Journalists plan to head for the exits

No great surprise here, but a study from Ball State University that is getting some new attention finds almost three-quarters of newspaper journalists 34 and younger who were questioned intend to leave journalism or aren't sure about their futures.

Overall (according to the study abstract), almost 23 percent of the 770 journalists questioned said they intend to get out.* You could look at that and wonder whether it's the best and brightest, or if it's the "untrainables" Paul Conley talks about (more here). But when you take the two figures together, it's pretty clear it's not the old hacks.

Young copy editors and designers appear to be under the most stress, according to the study by Scott Reinardy. (Anyone at ACES listening? What can we do about this?)

Many of the reasons are the same old: Stress, long and lousy hours, lousy pay. Some of that never will change, but what can change is publishers' recognizing those are systemic to the industry and building in other incentives (not all necessarily monetary). Unfortunately, that seems to fall on deaf ears.

So will the last one out please turn off the press.

(Most are not actually leaving media. They intend to freelance or do PR. Some intend to move into academia, although without a Ph.D. these days that's getting harder and harder. See an E&P story synthesizing it all.)

(Update: Now that I look at this, it is not "new." It was presented at AEJMC in August -- one of those sessions I had to miss because of a conflict. But it is worth bringing to general attention, even if a little late. Good example, though, of PR -- Ball State got E&P to bite on this one as "new." Further Update: Simon Owens at bloggasm apparently wrote first about this, from which the E&P story came. Owens said E&P ripped him off, but that he later got an apology that it was an "honest mistake.")

*There appears to be a slight discrepancy between the abstract and the numbers in the full study. The abstract says: Additionally, journalists expressing intentions to leave the profession (n = 173) demonstrated high rates of exhaustion and cynicism ... The total number of journalists who took the survey (N) was 770, so 173/770=22.47 percent. However, in the text, Reinardy writes: When the journalists were asked if they had intentions to leave newspaper journalism, 25.7 percent answered “yes” and 36.2 percent answered “don’t know.” No tables are provided, so I can't tell if the N for this part of the study is less than 770.

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At 1/27/08, 11:10 AM, Blogger Andy Bechtel said...

I happened to be the discussant* for this paper panel at AEJMC last summer. It's solid study with real applications in the newsroom, and I'm glad to see it getting some attention here, in E&P and anywhere else.

* A discussant at an academic conference is sort of like a judge on "American Idol."


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