Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More on the flack-to-hack ratio

Following up on this, Yahoo has another careers-to-avoid post. The second entry caught my eye:
Dying Career #2: Reporter

They say a species must adapt or die, and with the trend of the Internet replacing print journalism (you are reading this on the computer, after all), media folks who don't adjust might not survive too much longer. In short, many reporters could be going the way of their typewriters soon.

Projected Decline: Reporter and correspondent positions are expected to decline by 8 percent from 51,900 jobs in 2010 to 48,000 in 2020, for a total of nearly 4,000 jobs lost, says the U.S. Department of Labor

Why It's Dying: The Department of Labor says that because of the trend of consolidation of media companies and the decline in readership of newspapers, reporters will find there are fewer available jobs.

So, if you have a hankering for writing, you might look into...

Alternative Career: Public Relations Specialist

In the new world of Facebook, Twitter, and all things Web, the public image of a company has never been more important, and so the role of public relations specialist is a vital one. These are the people who evaluate advertising programs, write press releases, and communicate with the media and public to promote a company's public image, according to U.S. Department of Labor.

Projected Growth: The Department projects openings for PR specialists to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, which equals 58,200 new jobs.

Why It's Growing: Thanks to the fact that both good and bad news spreads quickly in the Internet age, the Department says that companies need PR specialists to respond to these news developments. "With the popularity of social media marketers, specializing in that will be absolutely critical in the future. These people will be sought after by most companies," says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and writer of's Guide to Human Resources.

Education Options: The Department says public relations specialists normally need a bachelor's degree, with employers usually wanting applicants to have studied public relations, communications, journalism, English, or business.
Putting aside the pros and cons of the career advice, this is troubling for a number of reasons. First, it shows that the previously mentioned flack-to-hack ratio continues to grow. More importantly, it's another indicator of how acclimated we've become to the idea of substituting press releases and selectively edited news stories for impartially gathered information from independent sources.

As mentioned before, this and other trends in journalism are each troubling on their own but it's when you start combining them that they become truly frightening.


  1. This reminds me of my speculation that the left-leaning (on average) characteristics of the journalism industry is counterbalanced by a right-leaning (on average) public relations industry.

    1. The problem with that is, I suspect, that the balance generally goes away when you disaggregate along issues and journalistic roles. There are a lot of issues like marriage equality where journalists feel strongly and PR types are indifferent (or vice versa). There are also influential specialties (financial journalists, op-ed writers) that have proven remarkably aligned with the PR community's most deeply positions like the deficit.