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What journalists encounter in their jobs and careers

The survey also went deeper to look at the experiences of these journalism and communication graduates in their work. That began by asking people (regardless of where they work) what they had personally experienced in their jobs in the last five years.

The results might be interpreted as relatively grim, but again age made a big difference in results, and some of them are distinctly positive.

The only item that the majority of respondents said they had experienced was that they had new duties added to their existing job (as opposed to being promoted). Nearly two-thirds of people said they had experienced this in the last five years (63%).

At the same time, only 46% said they had a pay raise in the last five years.

When those are correlated, a little more than 27% of these graduates say they have experienced more duties without receiving any pay raise in the last five years. Is one industry tougher in this regard, than another?

Not really. While 30% of those in journalism say they’ve gotten more responsibilities but not any pay raises, that is true of 32% of those in education, 28% of those in politics, 30% of those working in startup or entrepreneurial environments and 27% of those in technology.

On a different side of the ledger, 37% said they had been engaged in an interesting innovation project, and 29% said they had been promoted. Another 19% said they had gotten a new job that hadn’t existed before.

There were also some even more dour findings here. Fully 12% said they had suffered pay cuts, 12% layoffs, and 8% furloughs.

Experience at job Percent
Had duties added to existing job responsibilities 63.3%
Received a pay raise 45.8%
Engaged in an interesting innovation project 36.8%
Got promoted 29.0%
Had benefits reduced 24.6%
Got a new job that previously didn’t exist 19.2%
Received a pay cut 12.0%
Got laid off 11.9%
Had a furlough 7.6%
Launched an internal venture or startup 8.9%
Launched a startup on their own 9.3%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following have you personally experienced in the last 5 years?

American Press Institute

These responses vary substantially by age. The youngest graduates, for instance, were more likely to have new duties added to their jobs without being formally promoted, which could be a sign of their becoming more efficient or simply being more willing. They were substantially more likely to get a pay raise (66%) than those 35-54 (50%) or those 55 and older (28%). They were half as likely to say they had suffered a pay cut. They were far more likely to have been promoted (48%) compared with 30% for those 35-54 and 12% for those 55 and older, though this may reflect the greater number of job categories open to younger employees and the smaller number in senior positions.

55+ 35-54 21-34
Benefits reduction 28.1% 31.9% 18.3%
Duties added to existing job responsibilities 51.4% 70.7% 78.5%
Engaged in an interesting innovation project 33.9% 42.9% 43.6%
Furlough (forced unpaid time off) 8.4% 9.6% 6.6%
Launched an internal startup or new venture 9.9% 10.9% 9.0%
Launched a startup or new venture on my own 10.2% 11.7% 6.1%
Layoff 12.9% 13.9% 10.4%
Pay cut 15.7% 16.4% 7.2%
Pay raise 27.9% 50.1% 65.5%
Promotion 11.5% 30.2% 47.9%
Started in a new job that didn’t exist a few years ago 9.9% 19.3% 30.9%
None of these 16.7% 6.1% 3.9%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following have you personally experienced at work at least once in the last five years? Select all that apply.

American Press Institute

The industry one works in seems to have less impact on what kinds of experiences people have had in the past five years at work. There were differences by employer category, but it is harder to generalize. Those in journalism are the most likely to have faced reductions in benefits by a slight margin. But generally there are not clear patterns. People in different employment categories have experienced some things that are positive and some things that are negative, without one industry standing out as clearly benefiting and another suffering.

Job experience Journalism employers Commercial employers Educational employers Political employers Entrepreneurs Technology employers Other professions
Duties added to existing job responsibilities 64.3% 67.0% 66.9% 65.7% 42.2% 69.2% 55.3%
Pay raise 41.8% 54.1% 43.5% 48.0% 19.1% 54.0% 50.7%
Engaged in interesting innovation project 33.3% 43.2% 37.0% 43.5% 35.0% 52.0% 29.1%
Promotion 27.0% 37.7% 25.0% 31.1% 11.4% 44.2% 26.7%
Benefits reduction 27.2% 22.3% 24.8% 24.3% 20.5% 25.0% 24.4%
Started job that didn’t exist a few years ago 19.8% 23.0% 17.9% 20.2% 17.7% 36.1% 13.9%
Pay cut 15.0% 10.9% 12.1% 10.5% 17.6% 11.9% 10.7%
Layoff 13.3% 14.5% 9.6% 10.9% 16.3% 20.1% 8.8%
Launched an internal startup or new venture 9.9% 12.3% 5.9% 7.5% 13.8% 18.6% 5.8%
Launched a startup or new venture on my own 9.7% 9.8% 6.3% 8.3% 38.1% 14.4% 6.0%
Furlough (forced unpaid time off) 8.9% 4.5% 9.3% 12.2% 5.3% 6.4% 3.7%
None of these 9.9% 7.3% 9.2% 8.5% 16.0% 3.6% 11.7%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following have you personally experienced at work at least once within the past 5 years? Select all that apply.

American Press Institute

The survey also probed the experience of people in journalism in particular. What beats do people cover? How do they feel about their jobs? What are their plans?

When we asked those in journalism what topics they are responsible for either covering or editing, the topics varied fairly widely. Features and general assignment were the most common (56% and 52%). About the same number of people said they cover or edit politics as do business (41% each), something we imagine might not have been true a generation ago when business journalism was not as robust. Social issues and education came next. Science and technology writing is now a major beat, 7th on this long list, above crime and court, just below education and social issues.

Topic Percent
Features (people and events) 56.3%
Breaking news / general assignment 52.2%
Politics / government 41.1%
Business / economy 40.7%
Social issues 36.7%
Education 31.8%
Science / technology 27.9%
Crime / courts 25.3%
Lifestyle / fashion/ home / garden 24.6%
Transportation 19.6%
Weather 15.7%
Religion 12.0%
Sports 8.5%
None of these 4.8%
Health 4.0%
Arts / entertainment 3.4%
Environment 1.9%
International 1.3%
Dining / restaurants 0.9%
Other 0.9%
Opinion 0.5%
History 0.4%

Data Source: Question: About which of the following topics are you frequently responsible for producing or editing content? (Check all that apply.)

American Press Institute

We also asked people engaged in journalism where they saw themselves in the future. Did they imagine they would remain in journalism?

Most, 67% believed they would still be in journalism. Another 17% wanted to but worried they could not. Ten percent thought they would switch, and 7% wanted to but said they worried journalism was all they knew.

Response Percent
I will still be in journalism 63.4%
I want to stay
but doubt I can
11.1%
I will switch to another field 11.9%
I want to switch but it's all I know 7.4%

Data Source: Question: If you work in journalism, where do you see yourself in five years?

American Press Institute

Yes. Younger journalists were more confident they would remain in the field. Fully 70% said they thought they would still be in journalism, versus closer to 65% for their elders.

Response 55+ 35-54 21-34
I will still be in journalism 65.2% 64.4% 70.4%
I want to stay but doubt I can 21.4% 17.2% 12.8%
I want to switch but doubt I can 4.7% 8.6% 5.9%
I will switch to another field 8.7% 9.8% 11.0%

Data Source: Question: If you work in journalism, describe where you see yourself in five years.

American Press Institute

Finally we asked people about their sense of job security. This question was asked of everyone, and we could compare those engaged in journalism with the broader sample.

In all, three-quarters (75%) describe themselves as feeling “very” or “fairly” secure about their job in five years (with 26% of all respondents saying “very”). Just one in five (21%) say “not too” or “not secure at all.” Just 4% say they’re not sure.

Feeling Valid percent
Not secure at all 8.6%
Not too secure 12.5%
Fairly secure 48.3%
Very secure 26.4%
Not sure 4.2%

Data Source: Question: How would you describe your feeling about your job security?

American Press Institute

Does the industry people work in make much difference? Some but not as much as people might think. The majority across all employment categories felt either “very” or “fairly” secure, including those in journalism. The highest in feeling very secure are those with professional degrees, working in politics or education (each at more than 30%).

Fully 66% of those in journalism say they feel fairly or very secure (just 19% very, the lowest level of any profession).

Employer category Not too secure, or not at all Very or fairly secure
Journalism 28.9% 66.2%
Commercial 17.1% 79.9%
Education 17.9% 78.6%
Political 15.8% 80.2%
Entrepreneurial 33.6% 61.2%
Technology 22.2% 74%
All respondents 22% 78%

Data Source: Question: How would you describe your feeling about your job security?

American Press Institute

How big a difference does age make in these perceptions of job security? Some, certainly.

The youngest are the most likely to feel a sense of job security. Fully 85% of those age 34 or younger feel at least fairly secure. That is notably more than 73% of those between the ages of 35 and 54. Those over age 55 feel least secure. But even in this cohort, 66% say they feel at least fairly secure about their job. Just 27% describe themselves as feeling insecure. Interestingly, a much higher percentage than any other group, about 8% said they weren’t sure.

Age Not too secure, or not at all Very or fairly secure
55+ 26.7% 65.8%
35-54 23.3% 73.2%
21-34 13.5% 84.6%

Data Source: Question: How would you describe your feeling about your job security?

American Press Institute

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