Nov 12, 2010

Just how many journalists are out there?

The implosion of daily newspapers, the largest employer of professional journalists, has left behind a river of unemployed bodies, the victims of layoffs, downsizing, buyouts, attrition, and whatever else got people off the shrinking payrolls.

But the expansion of non-traditional media has, even in this down economy, offered some opportunities for transition into journalism jobs of a different sort. For example, public radio and nonprofits are expanding, though at a slow pace, offering some former daily reporters and editors new homes. Online sites, from AOL's Patch to the Daily Beast, are giving writers of varying experience a chance to resettle.

The quality of journalism from the new and expanding media is mixed, but then so was the quality of many newspapers. Nonetheless, it's hard to evaluate, in the middle of a massive upheaval, whether "good" journalism will thrive - especially since there's increasingly loud disagreement about what constitutes "good" journalism.

But for those tracking the numbers, Ken Doctor has a roundup of the jobs lost and jobs gained in recent years, which might give us a little a blurry idea of where things are headed. It's still an ugly picture for anyone out of work (or at a bad paper) who's uncomfortable with opinionizing, taking a pay cut, and for whom editing down video of a community meeting is torture. But some green shoots (a godawful phrase) are appearing.

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