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Friday, December 29, 2023

American Journalists

The American Journalist Under Attack

 This survey continues the series of major national studies of U.S. journalists begun in 1971 by sociologist John Johnstone and continued in 1982, 1992, 2002, and 2013 by David Weaver, Cleve Wilhoit and their colleagues at Indiana University. Few studies of a profession as important as journalism can claim a half-century’s analytical perspective on the work, professional attitudes, and ethics from large samples of the people working in it. That’s what this study does with its contribution of important decennial measures of the pulse of American journalism. This present study, based on an online survey with 1,600 U.S. journalists conducted in early 2022, updates these findings and adds new ones concerning democracy and threats to journalism. Overall, the findings suggest that the past decade has had significant effects on U.S. journalists, some more negative than positive. Compared to 2013, the latest demographic profile reveals that U.S. journalists are now slightly more educated on average and more likely to identify as Democrats or Independents. While the gender pay gap has narrowed, there are still significantly more men than women in the profession, and fewer racial or ethnic minorities than in the general population. U.S. journalists today are slightly more satisfied with their work and more likely to say they have complete autonomy to select stories. However, about six in 10 journalists say that journalism is headed in the wrong direction, and more than four in 10 say that that their news staffs have shrunk in 2021 rather than remained the same or grown. Other findings also indicate that U.S. journalists are less likely to consider reaching the widest possible audiences and getting information to the public quickly as very important roles, and more likely to emphasize the importance of investigating government claims. U.S. journalists continue to rely heavily on social media in their daily work, despite more than half of the journalists also thinking social media have negative impacts on their profession. Most use social media to check for breaking news and to monitor what other news organizations are doing, and few use these interactive media for interviewing sources. One of the starkest findings is the gender differences in abuse now experienced by a majority of journalists. Female journalists were 7-to-14 times more likely to have experienced sexism and about 10 times more likely to have encountered threats of sexual violence, both online and offline. Additional findings are available online at Lars Willnat, Ph.D. John Ben Snow Research Professor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University David H. Weaver, Ph.D. Distinguished and Roy W. Howard Professor Emeritus, Media School, Indiana University Cleve Wilhoit, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Media School, Indiana University