Fun with numbers: new data shows shifts in US media

Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 9:00 a.m. MST

Spending on Internet access continues its upward trend, while expenditures for print periodicals are waning.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about “Media and Information” shows fewer Americans working for companies that publish hard-copy products like newspapers and books, while U.S. software publishers are employing more people than ever.

Additionally, the new “Spotlight on Statistics” report contains employment projections for media professions that forecast a marked decline in “reporters and correspondents,” but a sharp uptick in “technical writers.”

“The media has been transformed significantly in recent decades as technological innovations have enabled more people in more places to obtain and share ever-increasing amounts of information easily and rapidly,” the BLS report indicated. “At the same time, methods of communication that were common as recently as a decade or two ago have declined sharply.”

In 2011, 479,200 Americans worked for companies that publish newspapers, books or directories — a 38-percent decline from the watershed total of 774,400 employees in 2000. Conversely, the 269,700 U.S. workers employed by software publishers marks an all-time high for that sector.

Additionally, BLS projects the number of reporters and correspondents working in U.S. media will decline 7.5 percent by 2020, with the percentage of Americans working as technical writers surging 17.2 percent over that same span.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explored the BLS report’s data Thursday with an article headlined “The 11 Most Interesting Facts From the New Mega-Survey of American Media.”

Every year the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases three to five iterations of its “Spotlight on Statistics” series. Prior to the Media and Information edition, the two most recent “Spotlight on Statistics” installments were September’s “National Hispanic Heritage Month” and “Hurricane Sandy: A pre-storm look at affected areas” in October.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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