Since its creation in Aug. 2008 by Martin Gee, a former San Jose Mercury News employee, the Newspaper Escape Plan Facebook group has evolved into quite the forum. Printosaurs and media gurus alike are invited to discuss issues, share resources and give tips to those in journalism. The “common interest—self help” group calls the newspaper industry an “abusive relationship” and urges members to transfer their skills to a new industry more deserving.
John Zhu is a writer, copy editor and web/graphic designer who escaped the news industry in 2006. He posted a collection of blog posts dedicated to finding ways to get out of the newspaper business mid-career. In one post called “How to (Voluntarily) Become an Ex-Journalist,” he offers links ranging from job boards, what to do after being laid off and free courseware classes on journalism and media. He doesn’t do this out of spite or hatred for the industry–but he does believe that times are rocky and people need all the help they can get.
Northwestern University’s Media Management Center recently published a report, “Life beyond print: Newspaper journalists’ digital appetite,” that surveyed 3,800 people in a cross-section of newspaper newsrooms.
The study outlined six profiles of journalists:
1. Digitals make up 12% of the workforce and include the youngest age group that works mostly online. More than half of them have undergraduate or graduate degrees in journalism.
2. Major Shift makes up 11% of the workforce. This group is a mix of reporters, editors, designers and videographers who usually have 15 years or so in the business. This group is also the most pessimistic about staying where they are in the business and wants to see more change.
3. Moderately More makes up 50% of the workforce. This group wants to see a more equal divide between print and online media and believes future of the newsroom is bright.
4. The Status Quo includes the 14% who devote about 30% of their efforts to online journalism. Nearly half are age 50 or above. This group feels the evolution of newspapers has happened at a good pace.
According to the study, “Online desire in the newsroom is not determined by age, years of journalism experience, or proximity to retirement. And youth is not a factor in predicting who in the newsroom wants to move into digital. Rather, the top two predictors of digital appetite are heavy Internet use outside work and having knowledge of online audiences and their preferences.”
The study concludes by noting that journalists have the drive, but the necessary tools for change and access to engaged leadership aren’t always readily available. What do you think about this? What group(s) do you fit in best?