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Monthly Archives: July 2013

header_logoI worked with the American Society of News Editors again this year to help with their annual newsroom employment census. While the number of employees in daily newspaper newsrooms has been decreasing in recent years, most people interpret the numbers to be a broad indication of the death of journalism or at least the death of the specific career of “journalist.” However, as I’ve learned through consulting with this project, counting journalists is very difficult, especially in a time of significant structural change in the news industry.

In the media coverage of this year’s census, I was interviewed and quoted by both Poynter and The Atlantic, where I was able to shed some light on the difficulties in counting journalists and why the ASNE results can’t be interpreted without an understanding of the broader context of modern newsroom structures.

Here are links and brief snippets of the articles where I was quoted.

Atlantic (Newsroom diversity: A casualty of journalism’s financial crisis):

“What’s difficult is we don’t know what the institution of journalism is anymore,” he says. With online news, Maksl explains, there is no list of all the online news sources, or even a clear definition of what constitutes an online news organization.

Poynter (ASNE census finds 2,600 newsroom jobs were lost in 2012):

Who counts as a journalist now is complicated,” said Adam Maksl, one of the academics who oversees the work. For this year, Maksl said in a phone interview, papers with regional editing centers were left to make their own call about counting their share of these groups as part of their own news staff.

Clarifying that and other gray areas remains “a challenge for the future,” Maksl said. There probably remains some ambiguity about who in the newspaper’s digital operations (a code-writer, for instance) should count as a journalist. Also, Maksl noted that clerks have traditionally been excluded from the count, but in downsized newsrooms many with that job classification are heavily involved in producing journalism.