May 6, 2014


American journalists have become increasingly dissatisfied with their work and see the industry moving in the wrong direction, a new survey shows.

The Indiana University survey, which follows up on research first conducted in 1971, found that as newsrooms are shrinking, journalists see themselves having less autonomy and that job satisfaction is on the decline.

The 2013 survey shows that, compared with a decade earlier, “the updated demographic profile of US journalists reveals that they are now older on average, slightly more likely to be women, slightly less likely to be racial or ethnic minorities, slightly more likely to be college graduates (and) more likely to call themselves Independents politically.”

Released late last week, it found 59.7 percent say that journalism in the United States is headed “in the wrong direction.”

The median age of full-time US journalists increased by six years from 2002 to 47.

As Virginia Postrel has mentioned several times over the years, the Web-induced contraction of old media, coupled with journalists’ near-monolithically left-leaning politics, can sharply skew their reporting on other issues, particularly those which are economic-themed.

As she wrote in December of 2002:

In today’s NYT, Dan Akst puts the current economic gloominess in perspective, reminding us that even in the current slump the economy looks more like an earlier era’s dream than the nightmare too often portrayed in media account. By historical standards, things are looking awfully good: “low interest rates, affordable energy, full employment without inflation and broad access to home ownership.” We’ve even learned to compete with the Japanese. Why the disconnect? One reason “may be the sharp advertising downturn that started in early 2001. The resulting media recession, including layoffs and other cutbacks, has produced a grimmer-than-usual attitude in the perennially gloomy fourth estate. The industry’s concentration in New York and Washington, both of which were struck by terrorists last year, has further darkened the industry’s outlook.” Dan is no outsider taking cheap shots at reporters. He’s a long-time journalist acknowledging a psychological truth: We all grant more salience to facts we experience directly. And journalists know lots and lots of people who’ve lost jobs in this recession.

Conversely, by early 2008, the media had a serious case of what Postrel dubbed “Depression Lust” — all but begging for the financial crisis that would arrive with a fury later that year, if only to coronate Barack Obama the second coming of FDR. And of course, Time magazine did just that, immediately after he was elected. (Time founder Henry Luce, a moderate Republican who loathed FDR, could be heard revolving rapidly in his grave.)

In 1991, the media worked very hard to amplify a rather mild recession into The Worst Economy In 50 Years to grease the skids for Bill Clinton. Will a continuation of those same tendencies over the next two years work to help or hinder their planned coronation of Hillary?