The State of Journalism

Journalism has long been an integral part of how we consume news and retrieve information. We are now a few months into another turbulent year. As we continue during these times of global uncertainty, we are taking a look at the state of journalism. How have these past few years affected the field of journalism and what does this mean for those of us who rely on it professionally and personally. 

Assessing the nuances of journalism and the media as a whole is something we are constantly doing for our clients and for our own knowledge. Understanding the changing trends helps us to strategize and plan effectively for each of our clients. We find ourselves constantly striving to answer questions like How has journalism changed? How does social media play into things? How do journalists want to find out about new sources?

Recently Muckrack surveyed 2,500+ journalists on everything from popular reporting mediums and in-person event coverage, to the most effective PR pitching strategies.

Here’s what we know:

  • 64% are full-time journalists, editorial writers or bloggers, 19% are full-time freelance journalists and 12% create journalistic content, but supplement their income with other work. Of the 5% that listed ‘Other,’ write in responses included editorial functions such as editor, blogger and producer. 
  • 32% have been a journalist for 20+ years. 25% have been a journalist for 10-20 years. 21% have 6-10 years experience, while 5% have 1-2 years experience. 
  • 74% of journalists primarily report in online formats. Of those, 41% report online (with a print edition) and 33% report online (with no print edition). From the respondents who selected ‘other,’ the most common format was print with online editions. Most journalists surveyed produce content in at least one additional medium monthly. 
  • Fewer journalists agree that the way companies share information is outdated—44% this year vs. 61% last year, indicating that companies are stepping up the way they share information. 
  • The average journalist covers 4 beats. Last year, the average journalist covered 3 beats. The most popular industries covered by survey respondents are Politics, Government and Legal, Arts and Culture, Business and Finance, Energy and Environment and Education.
  • For the third year in a row, 58% of journalists are optimistic about their profession. 
  • Fewer journalists said that CEOs and company PR pros are credible sources for reporting. However, more journalists find social media personalities (17% vs. 12% last year) and celebrity spokespeople (14% vs. 12% last year) more credible than they did last year.


Let’s unpack these for a minute… 

The majority of journalists are doing this as their full-time career. Personally, I found this surprising. I would have guessed more journalists were freelance contributors. But this is good news! It means that the beats they cover tend to not change as often as those who do this part time. It also means their contact information is likely to remain up to date far longer. The fact that the majority of journalists have at least 6 years of experience lets us know that they are on top of things and have a grasp on what good journalism looks like and how to know a good source or angle when they see one. One major downside we see in this report is that journalists are covering extra beats. This means they are busier than ever so grabbing their attention takes more effort. This means we need to be able to break through the noise to get client’s voices out there. Luckily, we’re really good at that.

Online, Online, Online! We knew traditional print media was going the way of the dinosaur and this proves it. We continue to look at how online content is consumed. We know how exciting it is to see your name or insight featured in a print edition, but honestly that is not always the best visibility. The majority of consumers get their news and entertainment media online. 

And when it comes to social media – More journalists value Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit and TikTok… notice Facebook is NOT on that list! And it’s no surprise that Twitter also comes in as the number one place, along with online news sources, journalists get their news. In fact, journalists said they plan to spend more time on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube this year. Plan your content accordingly and be sure to utilize your social media accounts to the max.