What’s the future of the newspaper industry?

29 Apr 2019

Investors are pessimistic on the newspaper industry at a time when public relations specialists are increasingly outnumbering journalists.

Public relations jobs exceeded those of reporters by more than six-to-one last year, up from less than two-to-one 20 years ago, according to data from the U.S. Census.

There are now 6.4 public relations specialists for every news reporter

With six public relations workers for every reporter, it’s no wonder that some writers say they are bombarded daily by story pitches. Some have taken to Twitter to complain about the most egregious phone calls and emails.

It looks like the six-to-one ratio won’t be narrowing anytime soon. Opportunities in public relations are likely to increase as newer specialties that target social media gain even more importance and companies boost staff to help control their message and defend their image.

Employment for public relations specialists will expand to 282,600 in 2026, up 9 percent from 2016, according to projections from the Labor Department. Meanwhile, jobs for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts are forecast to decline 9 percent to 45,900 over the same period.

For the news business, that would extend already sizable declines. Newsroom employment fell 23 percent to 88,000 from 2008 to 2017, with the number of newspapers dropping 45 percent to 39,000, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Journalists seeking work after being squeezed out of shrinking newsrooms often turn to public relations, said Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America and a Pulitzer Prize winner who previously worked at news outlets including the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.

“It’s obviously a supply-side issue and not a demand-side issue,” Bennett said.

Companies tend to hire either internal or external PR specialists to help shape and manage their image. Some, like Starbucks Corp., even created their own newsrooms where they post original content.

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