Efforts abound nationally to pin down just how many full-time people are in the business of reporting, editing, visualizing and otherwise sharing news in a professional journalism setting. This is a local one.
We know that, to no one’s surprise, aside from spikes, the trend is very clearly downward. Fewer people will have full time roles with organizations dedicated to journalistic enterprise.
But I wanted to use my hometown of Philadelphia to get a sense of what that hiring mix looks like. So I sent a whole lot of emails out to friends, colleagues and peers. Below I share what I found.
To clarify, I am very intentional not counting part-timers, independent contractors or other full-time-equivalents. I focused on people who get a W2 from an employer that is defined as a news organization (yes, lots of gray area there). This ignores the great work freelancers do for their full time role and the many journalistic acts those who don’t work for news organizations: that’s just a different census. I also focused on only those based in the City of Philadelphia — I cheated for NBC10 and 6ABc who still are on City Line Avenue — so no satellite offices or suburban papers.I did not differentiate between sports and culture or any other work — I came with no subject matter bias — but I didn’t include exclusive sports-orientated efforts (Comcast SportsNet and sports-team blogs for example).
Again, does that mean I missed important work? Yes! But that’s not my point. My aim was to know how many full-time reporters are working for Philadelphia newsrooms. It’s narrow but intentional.
Next: my methodology. I made some formal requests to news organization reps but didn’t hear back from many, so most of these figures are estimated by people who work there. (One exception was the helpful and speedy response from the region’s largest news organization). Otherwise, I agreed to not list who gave me this information, as some feared it was proprietary. I will happily update with official numbers if I’m contacted.
So thanks to everyone who got back to me — you know who you are — and a special shoutout to Philadelphia Media Network spokeswoman Amy Buckman who got back to me promptly and thoroughly.
And quick side note: there’s quite a density coming to the Market East part of the city.
Market East has quietly become an anchor of Philadelphia's news community #PHLNewsCorridor pic.twitter.com/2FaEo1Xxyl
— Barcamp News Innov. (@BCNIPhilly) January 17, 2016
For each news organization, I asked to group staff in three categories (only full-time and only Philadelphia based):
- Full-time reporters and other content producers: reporting, gathering and disseminating information
- And Full-time editors and production support: the above category plus other editorial staff supporting its production and display.
- And all other Full-time staff: the above two categories plus all other staff.
Could I have asked other things? Of course! There are lots of censuses, I was only interested in a quick raw count.
Now the results for October 2016 in Philadelphia newsrooms*:
- How many full-time reporters?: 377
- How many full-time editorial staffers?: 1,027
- How many full-time staff? 1,689
*According to estimates, I will add an update here if more accurate numbers are shared. [This was lasted updated with feedback on Nov. 13, 2016]
Find the full spreadsheet here. (Have updated numbers? Tell me by email or @christopherwink)