Bay Area Newspapers: How Much Longer Until They Are Extinct?

Categories: Media
ShockedReader.jpg
It's worse than you think.
So you think the Bay Area's newspapers are bad now - they are only going to get worse. A new survey shows that local newspapers will continue to strip away what little staff and resources they have left.

Newspapers will get leaner, despite the fact that they have already lost half of their workforce over the last decade, including 36 percent of their reporters.

Even for journalists who have managed to hold onto a job, the picture is unusually bleak.Former middle-class news reporters are toiling away, earning poverty wages -- without health insurance, and with little prospect of finding profitable work again, according to a survey of the region's news business released Tuesday.

Though Web sites and other Internet-based media have -- to some degree -- supplanted newspapers as a source of information, they've not replaced the printed word as the dominant employer. According to the survey, roughly one-third of laid-off media workers said they have been either unemployed or underemployed for more than a year. Another 2.5 percent said they have been lacking work for more than six years.

And the gutting of newsrooms is far from over. Employers responding to the survey, which was sponsored by the Sunnyvale-based North Valley Job Training Consortium, said they expect to continue laying off workers and cutting resources moving forward.

Some bleak highlights from the report:

The vast majority of employer-survey respondents said that creative restructuring throughout the industry will continue, and one-quarter said further contraction will occur, including additional layoffs. That said, most respondents did not anticipate the need for layoffs, buyouts, or early retirements at their firms in the next two years.
The report quoted journalists who claim they were barely making ends meet as the New Media sweatshops replace middle-class-salary newsrooms of yore.

According to one journalist:

"I think there are a lot of opportunities, but little pay. Many journalists, even mid-career, are faced with low-pay employment options, even as the opportunities to make your mark are enormous. This puts tremendous pressure on individuals to survive in a very expensive area of the country."
Another said:

 "Very, very difficult times right now. I am hearing about former colleagues losing their houses. I feel lucky that I am able to keep a roof over my head. I really wonder if I will ever have another full-time job with benefits."

And those who haven't been laid off or suffered drastic pay cuts, are scared for their future. According to the survey:

Almost 90 percent said the changes have affected their view of the industry, and nearly 40 percent of those who were never dislocated are currently looking for work -- both in journalism and in other fields.
Many journalists who've lost steady work have gone to freelancing, which, even under the best economic times, is no way to survive. And Web sites, which had planted some hope of  transforming  the news business rather than eliminating it, tend to compensate journalists with "exposure" rather than money.

As many as 70 percent of dislocated journalists are currently freelancing, but 85 percent of those are "not really making it" financially, according to one executive interview. Freelancers face a larger supply of unemployed and underemployed journalists flooding the market. Meanwhile, much of the demand is from Web sites and other new-media ventures that are unable or unwilling to provide reasonable compensation.
Freelancing isn't merely economic poison for practitioners, the report said. The shift to a freelancing-based economy could also constitute a public health threat. In the current market, freelancing fosters such an unhealthy lifestyle that it can rightfully be considered the prelude to a medical crisis.

In addition to income challenges, a Pacific Media Workers study found that many freelancers struggle with feelings of isolation, lack of adequate health insurance, and dated skills, as well as a lack of infrastructure -- tech support, tax withholding, legal protection -- they enjoyed while working as employees.
So there you have it, New Media Cheerleaders -- everything you could have possibly wanted:

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Actual Screen Capture of Huffington Post Homepage, The Same Day a Survey Showed Bay Area Newspaper Employment Down By Half



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5 comments
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kaciehill
kaciehill

When my husband and I planned for an early retirement we were both in our 50's. Not only were we retiring, but we were moving to Nashville, TN. Since we resigned from our jobs, we knew we would have to buy health insurance and dental insurance in Tennessee. We purchased a PPO family plan, for just my husband and me, through "Penny Health Insurance" . We paid for the family plan ourselves, initially, the cost was a little less than $400 a month for both of us. Our co-pay was very reasonable at $25 each per office visit.

Yikes
Yikes

Cannot figure out what the screen shot has to do with any of this. The caption leads one to believe that you are implying that this headline from the Huffington Post is referring to THEIR year? Seriously??? I hope I'm mistaken, if not, another reason why this particular publication is inevitably struggling.

HyenaKiller
HyenaKiller

Maybe if newspapers were not so biased and slanted to the left they would still have a readership.... Just goes to show, anything and everything liberals touch turns to crap...

njudah
njudah

It's weird how newspapers keep on firing the people who create the thing they are allegedly selling - written words and news and the like. I never bother to pay for a Chronicle anymore - between the big type and the thin news coverage, and the inflated newsstand price, I'll either read it online or pick up one at the coffee shop. They have killed off whatever value they may have had in the past, but they sure make sure those bosses get paid well!

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