total number of editorial staffers employed in U.S. newspaper newsrooms continued to fall last year, dropping from 40,600 in 2011 to 38,000 in 2012, for a 6.4% decline, according to the latest figures
from the American Society of News Editors, which conducts annual surveys of newsroom employment.
ASNE said that the last time the newsroom count as below 40,000 was in 1978.
The 2012 figure is especially dramatic in comparison with the ASNE newsroom headcount of 56,400 in 2000, meaning the total number of newsroom staff has fallen by around 18,400, or 32.6%, in a little
over a decade. Even more remarkable, almost all the decline has taken place since 2006, when competition from digital media and broader economic woes hit the newspaper business in tandem.
Of course, newsroom staffers aren’t the only ones affected by continuing cutbacks.
Employees in areas like advertising sales, production, and distribution may be even
more vulnerable, as publishers have generally sought to insulate newsrooms as much as possible from layoffs.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the total number of people employed by the newspaper industry in all capacities plunged from 414,000 in 2001 to 230,730 in 2012, for a 44.3% decline in a little over a decade. The 2012
figure is down 6.2% from 246,020 in 2011 and 10.9% from 258,850 in 2010.
These declines are roughly in line with newspaper losses on the advertising side. According to the Newspaper
Association of America, total newspaper advertising revenues have plunged from $49.4 billion in 2005 to $25.8 billion in 2012, for a 47.8% decline in just seven years.