Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, bought the Washington Post last week, and we’ve got to imagine the pink slips are coming. The newspaper’s previous owners, the Graham family, sold the paper for less than a quarter of what Yahoo paid for the blogging platform Tumblr two months ago. But while the WaPo has obviously fallen considerably since it’s glory days, the struggles of the print newspaper don’t spell the end of journalism as we know it. Writing for the Progressive Policy Institute, Michael Mandel makes the case that demand for reporters—especially in the online and mobile space—remains strong, despite the travails of the ink-on-paper variety:
Old industries can decline even as new jobs growth. In fact, the field of journalism is going through a massive innovative spurt that is creating jobs even as others are being destroyed. About a month ago I did a post on exactly this subject, where I looked at unpublished [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data and help-wanted data from The Conference Board. Here’s what I found:– Employment at newspapers is down about 5% over the past year.– The number of help-wanted ads for “news analysts, reporters, and correspondents” is up 15% compared to a year ago.– More people are telling the BLS that they are working as a news analyst, reporter, or correspondent compared to a year ago.– Roughly half the want-ads for news analysts, reporters and correspondents contain the words ‘digital’, ‘internet’, ‘online’, or ‘mobile’.
Read the whole thing. Mandel has taken a look at a variety of data sources and drawn some interesting—and heartening—conclusions about the future of the fourth estate. And while he notes that the increase in want ads for journalist positions doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in hires (this could be explained by “changes in business practices, such as the way jobs are posted”), he makes a convincing case that the rumors of journalism’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.But this doesn’t mean that the journalism of the 21st century will look like the journalism of the past: these new jobs are cropping up just as demand for older positions fade. The core point, as in other industries, is that the ability to adapt to these changes and stay nimble on one’s feet is going to be an increasingly valuable trait in the new information economy.[Jeff Bezos image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson]