Monday, April 14, 2008

ASNE Survey: Over Last Year, Dailies Shrank Their Newsrooms By Biggest Margin In Three Decades

U.S. daily newspapers shrank their newsrooms by 2,400 journalists in the past year, a 4.4% workforce decrease that's the biggest year-over-year cut in ranks since the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) began conducting its annual census 30 years ago.

ASNE said 52,600 people work full-time in daily newspaper newsrooms -- a number that has not been that low since 1984.

Among those leaving dailies in the past year were a net of nearly 300 fewer journalists of color than worked in newsrooms this time last year, ASNE found in the census released Sunday.

Because of the wave of layoffs and hiring freezes, the percentage of journalists of color in daily newsrooms actually grew by a tiny margin, to 13.52% from 13.43 percent of all journalists, according to
ASNE.

"The numbers represent a dual reality: It's mildly encouraging that the minority percentage held steady despite difficult economic times that are causing many cutbacks," ASNE President Gilbert Bailon, the editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said in a statement. "On the other hand, the total number of minority journalists employed at daily newspapers declined by nearly 300 people, which follows the pattern for the overall newsroom workforce. Such a trend will not help newspapers in their quest to reach parity with the minority population by 2025."

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