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The Washington Post and the Future of Journalism


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 About a month ago I did a post on exactly this subject, where I looked at unpublished [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data and help-wanted data from The Conference Board.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]

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  • gwvanderleun

    “Why is it that Rush Limbaugh continues to flourish (make that thrive) — and the fabled Washington Post is being sold in a fire sale?

    “The answer: The Doctrine of Liberal Privilege.

    “Every single soul on the Post’s editorial board or in the newsroom of Newsweek had exactly the same set of “maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks” that are provided by Liberal Privilege. There was no one there to say, over the years, you, Post management have more than readers who are part of the Liberal Privilege. Your content is killing you….

    How ingrained was Liberal Privilege at the Post? Listen to famed Post reporter Bob Woodward on the sale to Bezos: ‘This isn’t Rupert Murdoch buying the Wall Street Journal, this is somebody who believes in the values that the Post has been prominent in practicing, and so I don’t see any downside.'”

    Yeah, right. As to the “upsurge” of reporters’ gigs in the Brave New Media World, I refer you to the disaster currently known as Patch. I also refer you to the salary averages of these positions.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    So it isn’t Journalism that’s dead, it’s leftist MSM that’s dead. I think that’s what the Right has been saying all along. Rush, Hannity, Fox, etc… are strong, while Leftist media organs like the NY Times and Washington Post, are dying.

  • Bruce

    Many of the “mainstream” news organizations feel it’s just fine to offend 50% of their potential readers as bias enters where it shouldn’t. If they want liberal editorial pages, fine. But when liberal talking points routinely make it in to what should be unbiased reporting of facts, many of the customers are smart enough to know they’re being spun. They are going to pay for that? Bezos is apparently a big Obama guy, but he’s probably smart enough to try to remove the bias from where it doesn’t belong. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.

  • Ray_Van_Dune

    I wonder how many of those laid off will find their way to a government agency PR job, since they are already highly skilled at lying for Obama.

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